Despite predictions that the presidential election could end in an electoral vote tie, or that the winner of the popular vote could again be denied the White House by the Electoral College, President Barack Obama won his anticipated 126-vote landslide Monday as the 538 electors officially voted in statehouses. But 12 years after Al Gore’s defeat prompted some Democrats to call for changing to the constitutionally prescribed method of choosing the president, Republicans are now mounting efforts in key states to end the winner-take-all method that most states employ. Some Republican strategists believe that could counter the advantage Democrats have gained on the path to the needed 270 electoral votes.
Only two states, Nebraska and Maine, do not award the full slate of electors to one candidate based on the statewide result. In those states, a statewide victory gets two votes and the remaining electors are awarded by congressional district. Some Republicans are pressing for vote-rich battlegrounds — such as Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania — with Republican-led state legislatures to adopt similar systems. If, for example, Florida had used congressional district allocation, Mitt Romney could have won 16 of 29 electoral votes.
Dominic Pileggi, the Republican leader in the Pennsylvania state Senate, introduced such a proposal this year, but faced resistance from Democrats and some in his party who were worried that it could hurt them. Pileggi introduced a revised version that would award 18 of the state’s 20 electoral votes proportionally based on the statewide vote. Under that approach, Obama would have won 12 votes and Romney eight. Were such a proposal in place nationwide, Obama would still have won a second term, according to a third-party analysis cited by Pileggi’s office, but the Electoral College results would have more closely mirrored the national vote.
“This is a debate that goes beyond Pennsylvania,” Pileggi said. “It’s hard to understand opposition to a more fair allocation of Electoral College votes.”
In the past 200 years, 700 proposals have been introduced in Congress to reform or eliminate the Electoral College, according to the National Archives.