WASHINGTON -- A concerted Republican effort to alter the balance of power in presidential elections by changing the rules for the electoral college is facing significant hurdles -- including from some GOP officials in the affected states.
All but two states currently award electoral votes under a winner-take-all system. Plans to replace that with a proportional system are under consideration in a half-dozen states, including Pennsylvania, Virginia and Michigan.
All were presidential battlegrounds that President Obama carried last fall. But their state governments remain under Republican control, and some GOP lawmakers are pushing changes that would make it harder for Democrats to prevail in future contests.
It is too early to say if any of the proposals will become law this year, but the idea has attracted support on the national level. Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus, re-elected to a new term Friday, told The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently that the change is something that Republicans in blue states "ought to be looking at."
Democrats say the proposals are merely the latest in a series of GOP efforts to rig the rules of a game they are losing. And at least some Republicans seem to agree.
In Florida, the Republican speaker of the state House of Representatives expressed opposition last week to changing the way the largest swing state allots electoral votes, almost certainly dooming any chance that it will happen there.
Republicans don't "need to change the rules of the game. I think we need to get better," Rep. Will Weatherford told The Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times.
In Virginia, a state Senate committee advanced a plan this week to divvy up the state's electoral votes in the future according to congressional district results. Obama carried Virginia's popular vote by almost 4 percentage points in 2012, but Mitt Romney would have claimed nine of the state's 13 electoral votes had the GOP plan been in effect.
On Friday, however, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and several GOP lawmakers came out against the measure, effectively killing it.
In Pennsylvania, the state Senate majority leader plans to introduce a measure that would give two electoral votes to the winner of the statewide vote and divide the remainder according to the percentage of the popular vote each candidate receives. Under that plan, Romney would have won eight of the state's 20 electoral votes, according to Republican Sen. Dominic Pileggi, the sponsor.