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Electoral College changes sought

After back-to-back presidential losses, Republicans in key states want to change the rules to make it easier for them to win.

From Wisconsin to Pennsylvania, GOP officials who control legislatures in states that supported President Obama are considering changing state laws that give the winner of a state’s popular vote all of its Electoral College votes, too.

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Instead, these officials want Electoral College votes to be divided proportionally, a move that could transform the way the country elects its president.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus endorsed the idea this week, and other Republican leaders support it, too, suggesting that the effort may be gaining momentum.

There are other signs that Republican state legislators, governors, and veteran political strategists are seriously considering making the shift as the GOP looks to rebound from presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Electoral College shellacking and the demographic changes that threaten the party’s long-term political prospects.

Democrats are outraged at the potential change.

Obama won the popular vote with 65.9 million votes, or 51.1 percent, to Romney’s 60.9 million, or 47.2 percent, and won the Electoral College by 332 to 206 electoral votes. It’s unclear whether he would have been reelected under the new system, depending upon how many states adopted the change.

While some Republican officials warn of a political backlash, GOP lawmakers in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania are already lining up behind proposals that would allocate electoral votes by congressional district or something similar.

Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, said on Tuesday that he ‘‘could go either way’’ on the change and doesn’t plan to push it. But he said it’s a reasonable issue to debate and that he prefers that leaders discuss it well before the next presidential election.

Republican leaders in the Michigan statehouse have yet to decide whether to embrace the change there. Republicans control governor’s offices and both chambers of the legislatures in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina.

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