Where Angles Fear to Tread

November 7, 2016

The Electoral College

Filed under: Politics, US Politics — Right Angle @ 5:49 pm

It’s that time every 4 years when those of us who follow the US Presidential election need to remind ourselves how the Electoral college works. In case any of our readers don’t know it is simple – especially if you are used to the UK ‘first past the post’ electoral system.

Each state will hold the election with the candidates available in that state. It is possible to be on the ballot in only one or a few states, so some states have more than the two candidates. However it will be Clinton or Trump (baring a mathematical fluke of a tie) who will win overall. In order to fairly represent the voters in each state, they are given a number of votes in the electoral college based – roughly – on the number of voters in each state. (It’s the number of seats in House of Representatives + 2 (Seats in the Senate)).

So small states like North Dakota have 3 votes in the College but large states have more – California has 55.

Each state then counts up the votes from the Polling Stations and the winner in the state gets all the votes of that State. In order to win a candidate needs half the votes +1 – 270.

This means that some states always vote Republican or Democrat and have not been visited by either candidate. It also means that if you a voter in these states (like the safe seats in the UK) there is little point in voting except to say that you did and increase the ‘popular vote’ for your chosen candidate.

But states with very close forecast results get a lot of attention because if they won by either party they get a lot of votes. Another thing worth noting is that this system benefits the Democrats over the Republicans following immigration, and changes to the electorate meaning that there are lots of ways for Clinton to win. For example if Florida votes for Clinton it’s really all over for Trump, but if Trump wins it Clinton can still get to the White House. This is where we all get out our calculators – or spreadsheets – and work out the permutations for both candidates.

Right Angle

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