The 2016 Presidential Election and The Electoral College

In the United States the electoral college is the institution that elects the president and vice president every four years.  Americans do not vote directly for a candidate.  Voters vote for intermediaries called “electors” who vote for the presidential and vice presidential candidates.

The number of electors assigned to each state is equal to the number of members of Congress assigned to that state.  The 23rd. Amendment grants the District of Columbia the same number of electors as the least populous state.  In the 2016 general election, D.C. will have three electors.  In 2016, there are a total of 538 electors from the fifty states including the three from D.C.  A candidate needs 270 electoral votes or more to win.

Except for Maine and Nebraska, electors are elected on a ” winner takes all ” basis.  Maine and Nebraska allocate their electors by the winner of each congressional district.

If no candidate wins a majority of 270 electoral votes, the 12th. Amendment provides for the election by the U.S. House of Representatives with each state having one vote. Twice in U.S. history the House of Representatives has decided the outcome of a presidential election.  Thomas Jefferson was elected by the House in 1801 and John Quincy Adams was elected by the House in 1825. has supported a Constitutional Amendment that would elect the president by direct popular votes without the electoral college.  Since the electoral college is presently the law, the candidate that wins the most votes may not win the most electoral votes !

Some states in the U.S. have a strong democratic party in place and have a majority of voters registered as democrats.  These states are said to favor the democratic candidate.

Some states in the U.S. have a strong republican party in place and have a majority of voters registered as republicans.  These states are said to favor the republican candidate.

Some states have about equal numbers of registered democratic and republican voters.  Most of these states also have a large number of registered independent voters.  Hence, these states are called ” swing states ” because they are as likely to swing the vote to the republican candidate as the democratic candidate.

In 2016, there are seven states that are considered swing states.  Of course, the more electoral votes, the more important the swing state is in electing our next president.  The following is a list of the seven swing states and the electoral votes of each.  They are: 1) Florida (29), 2) Ohio (18),  3) Virginia (13),  4) Colorado (9),  5) Nevada(6),  6) Iowa(6), and (7) New Hampshire (4).

These seven swing states will get a lot of attention from both the democratic party and the republican party.  However, the two major candidates can not ignore the other states since a state that is favored to go republican might go democratic and a state that is favored to go democratic might go republican.

In 1948, all the political polls showed Thomas Dewey ( Republican candidate ) defeating Harry Truman ( Democratic candidate ). Yet when all of the votes were counted, Truman defeated Dewey. Truman had 303 electoral votes and carried 28 states.  Dewey had only 189 electoral votes and carried 16 states. Third party candidate, Strom Thurman, had 39 electoral votes and carried only four states.

Keep in mind the 1948 Presidential election when you look at polling data.  Remember that all political polls have a margin of error and the outcome is not final until all states and D.C. have been tallied !

R. Van Conoley

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