Virginia Republicans move forward on plan to give GOP more electoral votes

Republicans in the Virginia state Senate are moving forward with a plan that would give the GOP presidential nominee a big boost at winning most of the state's electoral votes even if the Democratic candidate won the statewide vote.

The bill, which was passed out of a state Senate subcommittee on a tied 3-3 vote, with one Republican voting against it, would allocate the state's electoral votes based on who wins each congressional district. It is likely to pass out of the full committee, which would send it to a full Senate vote.

Because Virginia Republicans had the upper hand in redistricting the state's congressional map, they hold eight of the state's 11 congressional districts. If this law had been in place for the last election, Mitt Romney would have won nine or 10 of the state's 13 electoral votes despite losing the statewide vote to President Obama by 4 percentage points.

There are a number of states Obama won that are controlled by Republican governors and legislatures that drew congressional maps very favorable to the GOP, and if all passed similar laws Romney would have likely won the presidency despite losing the popular vote by a considerable margin. Republicans in other states including Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have discussed such plans, which have been endorsed by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, but it's unclear whether any are likely to pass.

It's also far from certain that the Virginia bill is likely to pass into law: The state Senate is split 20-20, so if even one Republican defects the plan would likely be doomed, and one already did during the subcommittee vote.

But Republicans are also pushing for a re-redistricting of the state Senate that would give them the upper hand at winning the chamber, in which case they could do what they want — though Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) was critical of the legislative tactics they used to pass that plan because they waited until a Democrat was absent to vote on it.

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