Wearing my Partisan Democrat hat, the new and improved Pileggi plan to change the way PA allocates electoral votes is a bum deal. Instead of the Democratic candidate taking all 20 electoral votes in 2016, s/he’ll max out around 12. Instead of the Republican candidate getting 0 electoral votes, s/he’ll get 8. As someone who prefers Democratic Presidents, naturally I want to see Democratic Presidential candidates take 20 electoral votes from PA, not 12. I also want those 20 votes to become easier and easier to get, as Southeast PA becomes more populous and reliably blue.
When I take my Partisan Democrat hat off, the proposal looks a little more interesting. I’m on the record saying Republicans should pursue proportional representation to start building political strength in cities. The electoral vote change Pileggi proposed doesn’t do that, but it does lead naturally to the question of why they wouldn’t also allocate Congressional seats proportionally too.
Interestingly, Dave Weigel reports that Pileggi is at least open to discussing this:
I asked Pileggi’s spokesman Erik Arneson whether the proposal to split up electoral votes proportionately might be expanded to congressional seats.
“It’s an interesting question,” he said, “but I have not heard any of discussion of that. I’m familiar with the group [FairVote], but I have not heard of anyone who’s seriously introducing it in Pennsylvania. Certainly, we would listen to the pitch. I’m intrigued by the concept of who chooses who those ten people are. Where would they come from? Would the rural parts of the state be represented? I assume that group has thought through this.”
Randy LoBasso sends us to FairVote’s post on the Pileggi plan, where they make the important observation that if PA had allocated Congressional seats proportionally this year, there’s no way we would’ve ended up with a situation where Democrats won the popular vote, but the seat share was 13 Republicans and 5 Democrats.
As to the question of where those candidates come from, the answer is “everywhere!” Anybody from any part of the state can run for one of the spots. You can have a Philly Republican running for Congress, and a Democrat from Cranberry. You could have a system where the parties choose their slate of candidates, or a total free-for-all. In that case, you’d have a lot of issue interest groups putting out slates of candidates and the order they want you to rank them. There’s nothing about this that would necessarily underrepresent rural interests – their votes would count just as much as everyone else’s.