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In the wake of the election, there have been renewed complaints about the Electoral College, specifically, how it unfairly rewards small states with disproportionate voting power. The supposed implication is that Donald Trump won the election, despite losing the national popular vote, because small states vote Republican. Well, I did a little number crunching.
If the Electoral College’s 538 votes were redistributed proportionally to their populations (i.e., removing the “bonus” small states receive from their senators) but kept the winner-take-all format, Trump would have won about 56 percent of the electoral votes. In real life, he won about 57 percent of the electoral votes (assuming he wins Michigan, Clinton wins New Hampshire, and Maine goes 3-1 for Clinton). If anyone’s been worried about the Electoral College favoring small states, it didn’t affect this election. The determining feature of the Electoral College this time around was its winner-take-all format, at least, outside of Maine and Nebraska.
Here are my calculations based on US Census estimates from 2015.
A friend of mine, a Democrat, also made the following observation:
Lastly, clearly the Electoral College favors the Republicans right now given that Trump won the election and Hillary won the popular vote, but it’s not because “less populous states are red” or any variant of that argument. The [less-populus] red states are just bigger and in the middle, so they’re easier to see.
Of the smallest 12 states (all the states with <= 4 electoral votes), 6 went red (Wyoming, Alaska, ND, SD, Montana, Idaho) and 6 went blue (Hawaii, NH, Maine, RI, Delaware, VT). In fact, the Dems also won DC, so the dems are more helped by the electoral college on the low end.
On the high end, the top 4 split 2-2 (CA, NY vs FL, TX). It’s the next 8 that had a big effect on this election, Hillary only won 3 (IL, NJ, VA), while Trump won 5 (PA, OH, GA, NC, MI).
He later added fittingly, based on the analysis of the smallest states, “New Hampshire is the swing state to see if small states favor Republicans or Democrats.”