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As you all know, our president is not chosen by popular vote, but by the Electoral College. People often complain that this is an unfair system, and as recently as the 2000 presidential election, a candidate (Al Gore) won the popular vote, but lost the election (to George Bush).
I never worried too much about this disparity, thinking we were dealing with terribly small percentages of the population, but then I did the math…
First, the amount of people represented by 1 electoral vote varies widely. Wyoming gets 1 electoral vote for every 175,000 persons, while Texas gets 1 vote for every 700,000 persons. I have split the election among two parties, Party A and Party B.
If Party A won each of the states below by 51% the results would look something like this (these are the states that have the least number of people represented by each electoral vote):
As you can see, this is enough to reach the magic 270 electoral votes and win the election.
The next chart shows those states that have the most people per electoral vote. If these states voted for Party B by 99%, the results would look like this:
What does it all mean? Well…
Party A had 66,677,053 votes, which represents 22.7% of the popular vote.
Party B had 169,173,053 votes, which represents 77.3% of the popular vote.
Incredibly, the party that had 77% of the vote lost the election.
Now I realize that not all states allot their votes by a “winner take all” system (Nebraska and Maine), but most do, and the likelihood of the scenario I set up is so small as to be nonsense… but in an increasingly polarized society, it is realistic that a party could win the popular vote by 5% or even 10% and still lose the election…
My reaction is simply this. Wow.