If the election were held today, Pennsylvania would use its block of 20 electoral votes at once. We move our stack of chips on the table and we can have some real sway with it. Presidential candidates know it and focus their campaigns here on us. Those 20 votes always make Pennsylvania a gamble worth making.
Pennsylvania is about to give up a good chunk of the gamble with Tom Corbett’s proposal to gerrymander our little corner of the Electoral College. He has set up this scheme that would take the 18 congressional districts and make those individual fights for an electoral vote. Then he would take the two extra electoral votes and send them to the overall winner of the state.
So let’s say we have a dead heat in this state towards the end of a campaign with nine congressional seats solidly trending for each party or candidate. It means at the most, a net of two electoral votes can be picked up here in Pennsylvania for winning the state.
The bizarreness of Corbett's plan is that it is OK for two votes to determine a winner, but not for 20 votes? What if the state is decided by fewer than 100 votes? This doesn’t work for proportionality anymore than it did before. (A straight up percentage split works better than this.)
When the campaign schedulers look at the map and see that Delaware is a toss-up with three votes, where are they going to send the candidates? The net two votes in Pennsylvania or the net three in Delaware?
We get that Corbett has to rig the system to win, but at what cost.
Forget all about the elections themselves and let’s look at the money coming in. The GOP likes to talk about cash before people. What is this going to do to the economy?
If you haven’t noticed, there is a huge amount of cash that gets transacted during a presidential election. We are now talking billions of dollars here.
Every time there is a media buy, there is a line item on the bill where Harrisburg gets a 6 percent cut of the action.
Every time a palmcard is printed and delivered—a 6 percent cut of the action.
Every time a candidate eats a cheesesteak here—6 percent, not only from the candidate, but from the staff, the press entourage, etc.
Add all those ripple costs associated with the press conferences and travel of these folks to the total.
You can say goodbye to that money because the smart scheduler will be sending his people into Delaware. With its three votes, Delaware is now more attractive than Pennsylvania.
What about national media outlets showing nice video of different parts of the state to the rest of the country? Or a candidate making nice with a Pennsylvanian on one of our streets?
We just won't be all that important anymore, thanks to Corbett's plan.
Think about the media a little more. Philadelphia is the second largest city on the East Coast (Boston fits in our shirt pocket.) That means advertisers cannot charge as much because the campaign won't take place in an area with a lot of people.
Since West Virginia's net five electoral votes will stand head and shoulders above Pennsylvania’s net two votes, that media money will pour into Charleston and not Philly, Pittsburgh, Erie or Scranton.
If any group should be getting ready to knock Corbett around, it should be the guys running the media conglomerates. He is costing them big bucks.
Whoever came up with this plan must have been sitting on top of the refineries in Marcus Hook, wafting the fumes without any protection.
Seriously, any state legislator voting for this off-the-wall scheme will be creating an instant method to create a challenger for his or her seat in the next election. Challenger after challenger can go after these incumbents showing how they are shrinking Pennsylvania’s influence.
Good job guys.