May 16, 2011

Electoral college shenanigans, ctd: lose the Presidency with 78.05% of the vote

Taking another look at this post, I see now that I made two mistakes (some I noticed and some others pointed out).  First, I didn't use eligible voters, I used total population.  Second, I could have easily rigged it to come out with exactly 270 votes by simply removing a state.  So, I redid the calculation with data from here.  (See below.)  In this case, Wyoming through Wisconsin yielded 273, so I subtracted Montana, which is the least over-represented state with three electoral votes.  The total was barely changed from the other calculation: 21.95%.  Still, technical accuracy is worth checking.

2008 Presidential election, via Wikimedia
In comments, Alon added: "Well, Tony Blair won his three general election with an average of 40% of the popular vote and only 35% in 2005."  This is a valid point; parliamentary systems often return a prime minister who has only won a plurality.  However, to clarify the point, the really egregious thing about the electoral college isn't that it's possible to win with an extremely low vote percentage, it's that you can lose with a huge vote percentage.  No parliamentary system could possibly have a loser with 78.05% of the vote.

Others pointed out that it would be preposterous to have someone win DC, Vermont, Delaware, and Utah while losing New York and California.  That's true right now, but mostly an accident of history.  It's easy to imagine a future where one party ends up with support mostly concentrated in larger states, and therefore systematically under-represented in the electoral college.

I did this not as a serious possibility, but rather to point out the absurdity of our ad-hoc system.  (And this is the tip of the iceberg.)  No sane person would design a presidential election method this way.  It's time we scrapped it.

State Voting-Eligible Population Electors VEP per elector Percent of VEP WY thru WI – MO 270
Wyoming 405861 3 135287 0.186128408446298 Total Percent 43.9
District of Columbia 470144 3 156715 0.215608679968207 Half Percent 21.95
Alaska 493692 3 164564 0.226407824902293 Losing Total 78.05
Vermont 493696 3 164565 0.226409659307752

North Dakota 496664 3 165555 0.227770788157946

Rhode Island 755179 4 188795 0.346326119932851

South Dakota 600029 3 200010 0.275174118211959

Delaware 631634 3 210545 0.289668214340794

Hawaii 930624 4 232656 0.426785436348719

Montana 753666 3 251222 0.34563225606818

New Hampshire 1011125 4 252781 0.463703304802046

Nebraska 1271875 5 254375 0.583283610626878

Maine 1032820 4 258205 0.47365266140749

Idaho 1051978 4 262995 0.482438546350893

New Mexico 1400217 5 280043 0.64214142696502

West Virginia 1418691 5 283738 0.650613628575022

Iowa 2220718 7 317245 1.01842430523762

Kansas 1995927 6 332655 0.915334845883182

Nevada 1692499 5 338500 0.77618235101907

Arkansas 2079647 6 346608 0.953728952129222

Mississippi 2129092 6 354849 0.97640449660289

Connecticut 2507296 7 358185 1.14984936710787

Louisiana 3256637 9 361849 1.49349817227407

Utah 1843282 5 368656 0.845331640580664

Oklahoma 2653821 7 379117 1.21704593205891

Minnesota 3799328 10 379933 1.74237700544141

Alabama 3457019 9 384113 1.58539363091948

New Jersey 5811886 15 387459 2.6653388506196

Maryland 3944006 10 394401 1.808726533672

Oregon 2780456 7 397208 1.27512091586765

Colorado 3578616 9 397624 1.64115818105326

Massachusetts 4783819 12 398652 2.19386592149815

Kentucky 3197471 8 399684 1.46636456393493

Missouri 4433443 11 403040 2.03318300976783

California 22882532 55 416046 10.4939604011755

Wisconsin 4203366 10 420337 1.92766938360001

South Carolina 3375958 8 421995 1.54821894570197

Tennessee 4659865 11 423624 2.13702044794796

Indiana 4678739 11 425340 2.14567609010381

Illinois 8934072 21 425432 4.09717761081906

Michigan 7288055 17 428709 3.34231196843029

Washington 4728332 11 429848 2.16841950757944

New York 13355984 31 430838 6.12507248825145

Ohio 8637282 20 431864 3.9610693118133

Arizona 4331851 10 433185 1.98659277993329

Virginia 5689910 13 437685 2.60940049056863

Georgia 6596556 15 439770 3.02518958339648

North Carolina 6760227 15 450682 3.1002493273453

Texas 15407666 34 453167 7.06597665321905

Pennsylvania 9565259 21 455489 4.38664083034987

Florida 12812802 27 474548 5.87596848181408

United States 218054301




4 comments:

  1. Its also possible to drive across the country without getting stopped at a single traffic light.

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  2. If I understand correctly, these calculations have the initial hypothesis of every single eligible voter voting (nation-wide abstention rate of 0%).
    If we consider the case where Wyoming to Wisconsin (minus Montana) have very high abstention rates (is there a quorum needed?), and all the other states have no abstention, couldn't that percentage be even lower?
    If there is a quorum that new percentage can be calculated. If there isn't, the percentage can almost be 0 if only one voter goes in each of the over-represented states...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope, no quorum needed. It's winner take all based on the vote in each state. So yeah, 1 vote in each of the most unfair states and 100% turnout elsewhere, and it would be winning with essentially 0 percent of the vote.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the info. I did the calculation, a president can be elected with 0.0000298% of popular vote in this worst-case scenario (35 out of the 117576259 votes)

      Delete