Pileggi: divide electoral votes by district

Published by Laura Olson on .

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, is pushing to change the state's "winner-takes-all" approach for awarding electoral votes to doling them out to presidential contenders by congressional district.

That proposal, first reported by online news service Capitolwire on Thursday, could significantly revamp the state's role in the presidential general election.

"It would not only change the type of attention that Pennsylvania would receive in a presidential election, but it would also choose where in Pennsylvania that attention occurs," said Pileggi, following his appearance at the Marcellus Shale Coalition conference in Philadelphia Thursday morning.

He added that certain candidates may choose to spend more time in districts that on a smaller level are competitive, but are overshadowed if the state vote is leaning one way or another.

"Even if Pennsylvania was 10 points up for the Republican candidate, I would expect the Democratic candidate would still be campaigning in parts of Pennsylvania, and the reverse would be true," he said.

Only two states - Nebraska and Maine - divide their electoral votes instead of giving the whole bloc to the candidate that draws the most votes overall in a state. Even for those two states, the piecemeal approach has been a rarity, with Nebraska historically giving one of its five votes to Obama in the 2008 election.

It's difficult to gauge whether the proposal could gain momentum this fall, and in part depends on whether you believe the state is poised to go Republican or Democratic next year. Pileggi noted that the switch would benefit which every party does not win the commonwealth's popular vote.

Capitolwire took that a step further, pointing out that if the state had split its electoral votes in 2008, President Barack Obama would have won 11 out of the 21 votes, with Republican John McCain scooping up the remaining 10.

A co-sponsorship memo of Pileggi's proposal can be found here.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.