Can GOP plan to divide Pennsylvania defeat Obama?

It would be disingenuous at best to argue that President Obama’s re-election is a sure thing.

With economic growth still stagnant, the job market remaining stubbornly sour, and poverty rates reaching 52-year-highs, it is within reason to believe that with the right candidate the GOP could reclaim the presidency next year.

However, if the recent Republican presidential debates are any indication, that party might want to save its strength for 2016. Then again, Republicans rarely go down without a fight (a virtue all too often foreign to Democrats) and have consistently exhibited a win at all cost attitude. That mantra is executed in ways more nefarious than noble — particularly when it comes to their habit of political gerrymandering.

While both parties are guilty of using redistricting for political gain, GOP leaders like former House Majority Leader Tom Delay have taken the method to new and pathetic lows in recent years. Now his political brethren in Pennsylvania are following his lead just in time for the next presidential election.

The Hill reports that Gov. Tom Corbett and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi will introduce a proposal this fall that would change the way the state apportions its electoral votes.

Under their plan, Pennsylvania would abandon its winner-take-all system in favor of awarding electoral votes by congressional district, with the candidate who nets the state’s popular vote receiving an additional two. If the last two decades are any indication, a Democratic win would yield Obama only eight electoral votes versus the Republican candidate earning 12.

Pileggi says the move would bring more attention to the state. You know, as if you never hear about Pennsylvania’s importance during a presidential election. Meanwhile, the only two states that don’t have a winner-take-all system – Nebraska and Maine typically as significant to presidential elections as the song “Pumps and a Bump” is to contemporary pop culture.

State Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the Republican conceived plan was “a disturbing effort to put their self-interests and party interests ahead of the people.” Costa added, “Will we now be looking at state gerrymandering that serves a larger, national agenda?”
This plan is not about reforming any purported antiquated model as it is abusing a system for one political party’s own success. Already fears over the proposal have begun to seep into election coverage. Some have questioned if any of the currently Republican controlled legislatures in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin might follow suit. A few have gone even further, openly questioning whether or not President Obama has”>already lost the race because of Pennsylvania.

It would do wonders for skeptics and those subjected to them if they repeated the following: Relax, relate, release. No, really. Breathe. Slowly. Do not get worked up over the hypothetical — especially not this early in the presidential race.

While one should always keep a watchful eye on the GOP and their unwavering need to tip on the tightrope of the law to win a given election (if not flat out violate it), it makes little sense in shouting doom and gloom about the results of an election scheduled for November 6, 2012 on the eve of fall 2011.

As of now, it’s just a proposal and even if it were to be employed a lot can happen between now and next year’s election. That fun fact also reminds us of the following: No matter what Republicans do or say this is still essentially President Obama’s race to lose.

Lowering poll numbers or not, he still benefits from incumbency, he will more than likely out fundraise the GOP nominee, and if his recent behavior is any indication is currently more willing than ever to be frank about Republican obstruction.

It will be a fight, but it will be one decided on whether or not the president can convince enough voters to put their trust in him again for four additional years. Or better yet, put their trust in him with a genuine Democratic congress or at the very least, less contentious Republicans. To cry the party is over before it even really begins is a defeatist attitude that is annoying as much as it is asinine.

If this “genius plan” by Pennsylvanian Republican leaders passes, then it warrants people being vocal in their complaints about the Electoral College plus in their voter mobilization efforts to counter this mischievous stunt. But, no matter which way it goes use we should use our voices to proactive instead of spreading paranoia.