Saturday, November 11, 2017

Electoral College Redux

Well, they did it again. The Republicans lost the popular vote, but won the Electoral College. This is actually the 4th time this has happened. You may well remember the last time, when Bush II beat Gore. It also happened, though, in 1876 and 1888.

So, I think we all know that the Electoral College has issues. It basically puts states ahead of people. And one way it does that is to give smaller states a distinct advantage by adding up representatives and senators to come up with their electoral votes. 

In other words, even if you have a measly half a million people in your state (I’m looking at you, Wyoming), you still get 3 whole votes. And what that means is that it takes a lot fewer people to merit an electoral vote (about 194,000 for Wyoming) than it does for a much more populous state like, say, California (not quite 700,000).

Sans Senators

So, what I was wondering was whether this imbalance could have thrown this past election. It’s a simple calculation – just subtract 2 from every state’s electoral vote, add ‘em up all, and see who won.

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to tip the election. Trump’s total does go down, but only from 57% to 56%. Turns out, though Trump got most of the little states (NY, SD, ND, WY), he also got some big ones as well (OH, PA, FL, TX).

Interestingly, it did make a difference back in 2000. Instead of Bush II beating Gore 271 to 266, it would have been Gore 224 to 211. Sigh …

Of the other two where the electoral college and popular vote didn’t match up, only one of those would have been reversed. In 1876, Rutherford Hayes beat Samuel Tilden by an electoral college vote of 185 to 184. Take the senators out of the equation, and it’s 143 to 150.

So, no, my method doesn’t get rid of the Electoral College altogether ... but it does make it a little fairer.

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