The Electoral College has been all over the news since Clinton won the popular vote and Trump won the electoral vote. This is the second time since 2000 that one candidate won the popular vote while another won the electoral vote, so it’s possible that this will happen more often in the future. If it happens more than twice in a century, that’s already NEWWorthy, and this century is just getting started. Is this fair?
Take a look at the election results for those states where the difference in the number of votes for the candidates was 5% or less. Let’s call those swing states. I apologize if I missed any states where the difference was 5% or less. This is meant to give you an idea of what happened in this election.
Arizona: T 1,021,154; C 936,250; Colorado: T 1,137,455 C 1,212,209; Florida: T 4,605,515; C 4,485,745; Pennsylvania: T 2,912,941; C 2,844,705; Michigan: T 2,279,805; C 2,268,193; Wisconsin: T 1,409,467; C 1,382,210; Nevada: % 537,753 T 511,319; New Hampshire: T 345,789; C 348,521; Minnesota: T 1,322,891; C 1,366,676; Maine: T 334,838; C 354,873; North Carolina: T 2,339,603; C 2,162,074; Virginia; T 1,731,156; C 1,916,845
The totals are: Trump 19,978,367; Clinton 19,789,620. That’s a difference of one half of one percent. Trump and Clinton spent a large portion of $1 to $2 billion dollars for this tiny difference. With so small a difference, how is it that Trump won the electoral vote by 290 to 232?
Due to the Electoral College, small population state votes are given more weight than large population state votes, so small state voters have some clout in the presidential election. But how much weight is the correct weight to be fair?
Today, let’s take a look at a Wyoming vote versus a California vote. Wyoming’s population is 586,107 (2015) and has 3 electoral votes. That’s 195,369 persons per electoral vote. Not all residents of Wyoming can vote, but nevertheless that is their representation per person in the election. California’s population is 39,140,000 (2015) and has 55 electoral votes. But if we divide 39,140,000 by 195,369, we get about 200 electoral votes. What’s going on?
What is going on is 435 Representatives, 100 Senators, and 3 electors for D.C. for a total of 538 electors. The electoral votes are distributed similar to congressional representation. That limits how many electoral votes California can get, no matter the size of the population. So if a Californian moves to Wyoming to retire, their vote is suddenly worth almost 4 times more than it was in California. If a computer engineering student in Wyoming decides they need to move to California for a good job, their vote is suddenly worth 4 times less than it was in Wyoming. Is that fair?
What if California and New York decided to split into 32 different states? Would voters get more voting power in those states? Of course, Congress and the state legislators would never approve of this, but it points out how extreme solutions can be proposed to deal with the electoral college. If the law of the land is not changed to let the popular vote decide the presidency, then we may see many more extreme solutions proposed if we see elections more often where the Electoral College winner doesn’t match the popular vote winner. Already, some are proposing a California exit (Calexit).
Finally, because I’m a science fiction writer, I couldn’t resist. What if aliens come to Earth and take 49 states to live in, but they feel sorry for the humans and leave 1 state for all the human U.S. population to live in. Then the 2016 election is held. Who wins, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?