Lawmakers in Pennsylvania are considering switching the way the state divides up its electoral votes before the 2012 election. Pennsylvania now gives all of its electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote–the same method that 47 of the other 49 states also use.

Some meaningful things could happen if Pennsylvania chooses the new method under consideration. In 2008, Obama received 55 percent of Pennsylvania’s vote and all of the crucial swing state’s 21 electoral votes; under the new plan he would have received just 11 of the 21 electoral votes. Since Democratic candidates tend to win their districts by larger margins than the Republicans, a proportional system in more populous states could work to the GOP’s advantage in presidential races. There’s a strong likelihood that Democratic presidential candidates could win the state’s popular vote by rolling up higher margins of victory in dense, urban congressional districts and get less than half of the state’s electoral votes.

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