A new poll shows voters overall reject a proposal to change the way Pennsylvania casts its electoral college votes.
By a margin of 52-40 Pennsylvania voters said they want to see the state continue the state's current winner-take-all system rather than switch to a structure that would award votes based on congressional district.
But Republicans, by a slim (48-44) margin, favor the district proposal being advanced by Senate Majority leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware) and Gov. Corbett. Democrats oppose the plan 63-30, while independents are 53-43 against it.
The Quinnipiac University poll results reflect a belief that the proposal is being driven by political ends.
By a 57-32 percent margin, voters said “Republicans in the State Legislature want to switch to a district-by-district count to help Republican presidential candidates, rather than to better reflect the will of the voters."
The poll also found that - by a 51-38 margin - voters said the switch will "diminish Pennsylvania’s importance as a key presidential swing state."
“Pennsylvania voters say stick to the winner-take-all formula used in most states: Whoever gets the most popular votes, wins all of the state’s Electoral College votes,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
“Democrats especially are opposed, while independent voters side with them. Strangely, Republicans are not strongly in favor of the change,” Malloy said. “Pennsylvania voters think abandoning the traditional Electoral College formula would reduce the state’s swing state clout."
The poll also found among GOP voters that three Republican presidential candidates are locked in a tight race in Pennsylvania, with Mitt Romney at 18 percent, Rick Perry at 16 percent and Rick Santorum at 12 percent.
Nineteen percent of GOP were undecided.
One notable vote-getter in the presidential poll was former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has not even announced her candidacy. She was at 8 percent.
In a matchup with President Barack Obama, Romney gets 43 percent to Obama's 45 percent - a tie and virtually unchanged from the August 2 Quinnipiac University poll. President Obama tops Perry 46 – 40 percent and Obama beats Santorum 45 – 42 percent, compared to 45 – 43 percent.
The survey of 1,370 registered voters was conducted from Sept. 21 to Sept. 26. It has a margin-of-error rate of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
The poll comes as a rising bipartisan tide emerges against the idea. On Monday 11 of the 12 members of the state's Republican congressional delegation traveled to Harrisburg to meet with Senate and House leaders to discuss the electoral college plan and a proposal to make Voter ID mandatory at the polls. According to the online news service Capitolwire, the entire delegation told the state leaders they opposed both initiatives.
On Tuesday, the state Senate's Philadelphia delegation held a press conference to voice its collective opposition, saying it appeared to them the plan is trying to disenfranchise Philadelphians and others living in urban areas.
They called the proposal a “blatant attempt to gerrymander votes during presidential election cycles."
“We continuously tell people ‘Your vote counts,’ but the Republican leadership in the House and Senate are making a blatant attempt to discourage voting in typically Democratic urban areas,” saidSen. Shirley Kitchen (D-Phila.), chair of the Senate Philadelphia Delegation. “What they are saying to my constituents and people living in cities is that their vote should not count equally."
They called on Gov. Corbett to clarify remarks he made on the Dom Giordano show recently when he said the state "consists of five or six distinct political regions, and he suggested they have "not been represented because of the huge turnout in Philadelphia."
"He's supposed to represent the whole state," said Sen. Anthony Williams (D., Phila.)
The Senate has scheduled hearings on the electorial college plan on Oct. 4.
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