What if the Electoral College wasn’t winner-take-all?

Members of the Electoral College vote in New York in 2012. Tim Roske, Associated Press

This story was updated on December 30, 2016.

For the second time in the five most recent U.S. elections, the winner of the popular vote did not receive a majority of votes in the Electoral College. Donald Trump, despite carrying only 47 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 48 percent, appears to have won the Electoral College 306-232  by scoring razor-thin victories in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Here’s the current 2016 Electoral College map under the current rules, which award Electoral College votes to the winner of each state on a winner-take-all basis:

Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

(As of the creation of this map, the results of the Michigan election had not yet been certified. Donald Trump was declared the winner of Michigan’s 16 electoral votes on November 28.)

Just like after the 2000 election, in which George W. Bush became president despite losing the popular vote to Al Gore, there have been calls from several prominent liberals – including Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) – to abolish the Electoral College system and move to presidential elections decided by the national popular vote. Even President-elect Trump said he would “rather see” elections decided by the popular vote.

But what if an overhaul of our national elections system can’t or won’t go that far? What if we kept the Electoral College and the constitutional provisions surrounding it and instead awarded Electoral College votes to candidates proportionally based on the share of the vote they receive in each state? Well, the map for the 2016 election could’ve looked something like this:

Continue reading


Data suggests 3rd-party voters aren’t to blame for Trump’s election


The nation and the world are stunned by Donald Trump’s victory in last night’s presidential election. I’ve already seen a lot of vitriol on social media being thrown at third-party voters for the impact they may have had on Trump’s improbable rise to the highest office in the United States. Do they deserve it? Let’s dig into the data.

A set of exit polls conducted by CBS News asked third-party voters (for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein) what they would have done if neither Johnson nor Stein had been an option in the election. 25 percent of Johnson supporters said they would have supported Clinton, while 15 percent said they would have supported Trump. A full 55 percent of Gary Johnson supporters said they wouldn’t have voted for a presidential candidate. The numbers are similar concerning Jill Stein: “about a quarter” said they would have supported Clinton, 14 percent Trump, and 61 percent said they wouldn’t have voted.

The following hypothetical scenario where Trump and Clinton were the only two choices for president is based on CBS’ exit polling being accurate and also on that exit polling applying somewhat evenly over all states in the country. Let’s take a look at how this hypothetical situation would have played out in the four closest swing states that ended up giving Donald Trump the presidency:

Continue reading