New Castle News

February 16, 2013

John K. Manna: Republican electoral vote plan shows impact of gerrymandering

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Politics can be a lot of things, but in the final analysis it comes down to numbers.

Just this week numbers were released on how President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney fared in each of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts in the November election.

Although Obama won the popular vote in the state, Romney carried 13 of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts.

Republican congressional candidates won in each of the districts carried by Romney while Democrats won in the five carried by Obama.

The districts won by Obama include three in the Philadelphia area, one in Allegheny County and one that includes all of Dauphin and Lebanon counties.

Closer to home, Romney carried the 3rd District represented by Mike Kelly and the 12th District represented by Keith Rothfus. Kelly’s district covers the majority of Lawrence County and Rothfus’ district includes eight municipalities in the southern part of the county.

None of this is a revelation, but only confirms for the record how the two presidential candidates did in districts that were redrawn by the state Legislature to reflect the 2010 census.

In 2008 when districts were drawn differently, Obama carried 10 of the state’s congressional districts in defeating Sen. John McCain.

If nothing else, this should put to rest the idea of allocating electoral votes by congressional districts. Pennsylvania currently is a winner-take-all state, meaning the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote is awarded all of the state’s electoral votes.

Some may say — as some legislators have opined — that awarding electoral votes by congressional district more accurately reflects the will of the voters.

No, not really. It actually reflects the intent of legislators who like to monkey around with district lines for their own or their party’s benefit. These are not natural, sacred lines, but are man-made and redrawn every 10 years to reflect changes in population.

State Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, who advanced this idea last year, is issuing a new proposal to award electoral votes proportionately. Under this new plan, Obama would have been awarded 12 of the state’s 20 electoral votes in last year’s election.

He noted in a memorandum that this plan more accurately reflects the will of the voters. Since when doesn’t popular vote accurately reflect the will of the voters?

Despite this new proposal, the original idea is still out there and nobody in the Republican ranks has said that it’s dead. But they should.