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Raw data from https://uselectionatlas.org/. Results generated by multiplying each state's total electoral votes against the percentage of each candidate's votes in that state.


State     Trump        Biden       Other
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
AL         5.59         3.28        0.13
AK         1.87         1.01        0.12
AZ         5.37         5.44        0.19
AR         3.75         2.08        0.17
CA        18.35        35.58        1.07
CO         3.79         4.97        0.24
CT         2.75         4.14        0.11
DC         0.16         2.78        0.07
DE         1.19         1.76        0.04
FL        14.86        13.88        0.27
GA         7.89         7.91        0.20
HI         1.37         2.55        0.08
ID         2.55         1.32        0.13
IL         8.48        11.13        0.39
IN         6.24         4.54        0.22
IA         3.19         2.69        0.12
KS         3.39         2.48        0.13
KY         4.97         2.89        0.14
LA         4.68         3.19        0.14
ME         1.77         2.12        0.12
MD         3.47         6.29        0.23
MA         3.58         7.22        0.20
MI         7.66         8.08        0.26
MN         4.53         5.24        0.23
MS         3.57         2.34        0.09
MO         5.68         4.13        0.19
MT         1.71         1.22        0.08
NE         2.93         1.96        0.11
NV         2.88         2.99        0.13
NH         1.82         2.11        0.07
NJ         5.66         8.15        0.19
NM         2.18         2.71        0.11
NY        12.42        16.11        0.47
NC         7.49         7.29        0.22
ND         1.95         0.95        0.09
OH         9.60         8.13        0.27
OK         4.58         2.26        0.16
OR         2.83         3.95        0.22
PA         9.82         9.93        0.26
RI         1.55         2.37        0.08
SC         4.96         3.91        0.13
SD         1.85         1.07        0.08
TN         6.68         4.12        0.20
TX        19.82        17.63        0.54
UT         3.50         2.25        0.25
VT         0.92         1.98        0.10
VA         5.76         7.00        0.24
WA         4.60         7.02        0.38
WV         3.44         1.48        0.08
WI         4.88         4.95        0.17
WY         2.10         0.80        0.11
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total    256.61       271.37       10.02



One of the main defenses given for the electoral college is that Republicans need and deserve an advantage when it comes to the presidential election because of their small state constituency. The argument goes that big liberal urban centers with high populations would steamroll every election if the system were ever changed, and that this highly outmoded 18th century federalist idea must continue to disenfranchise a huge amount of the population for that precious and necessary political advantage.

In reality, the electoral college doesn't actually empower small states, it randomly empowers whichever states happen to be the closest to flipping. This year, it was Georgia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, but in the next presidential election, who knows? And why? There is no increased importance of a state just because it has a close race, there is no virtue of getting close to a 50/50 split. And yet the system is designed to amplify the votes of specifically those indecisive populations. Small states and large states both take a backseat, and instead the confused, unsure, and undecided states get the equivalent of quad damage with a rocket launcher. It must be unintentional, or else the founding fathers considered chaotic drama to be an important part of the election cycle.

Furthermore, in 2020, it didn't just fail to deliver that small state advantage for the Republican party, it actually worked against Trump. The electoral college doesn't just disenfranchise Democrats, it does so to all voters.

Let's consider the outcome and hypothetical alternatives:

Current system: Joe Biden won the election by 74 points (306 to 232) out of 538 points in the entire system.
  • Electoral college margin: 13.75%.

  • Popular vote, Joe Biden won by 4.1 million votes, out of about 148.7 million votes cast.
  • Popular vote margin: 2.86%.

  • A hypothetical electoral college system with fractional electoral votes: Biden would have won by less than 15 votes.
  • Margin: 2.74%.

  • A similar hypothetical system, but rounded to whole electoral votes: Biden would have won by only 6 votes:
  • Margin: 1.11%.
  • When the electoral college victory margin is that much wider than the popular vote margin, it's hard to argue that the electoral college is actually good for Republicans. The actual effect of the increased electoral value of small states (moves the needle only 1.7% when compared to the popular vote) is only noticeable when comparing the popular vote to a non-winner-take-all version of the electoral college. In other words, the actual effect of the electoral college in creating a small-state advantage is mostly overshadowed by the randomness of swing states, which is itself a result of the winner-take-all system, and not an inherent part of the electoral college (or the Constitution, for that matter).

    Between the two parties, the winner-take-all system has a notably larger effect on removing Republican votes. Among the states which were blowouts (at least 10% margin), there were approximately 33 million voters who cast their ballot for a candidate who did not win: about 20.8 million Trump voters and 10.7 million Biden voters. In other words, the electoral college deleted tens of millions of votes, and did so primarily to the party which defends it. In total, about 43.8% of all votes (nearly 65 million ballots!) cast in this election were deleted by the winner-take-all system, and instead given to the opposing candidate.

    Despite accusations of fraud in almost every other part of election process, the Trump team finds no fault with a system that deleted nearly 35 million of its supporters' votes and artificially inflated the victory margin of Joe Biden. How remarkable that such a thoroughly defensive, legalistic, and conspiratorial administration could suffer this kind of systematic vote manipulation and have nothing to say about it. It becomes readily apparent that Republicans aren't defending the electoral college because of a small-state advantage (shown here to have a much smaller effect than the existence of swing states), they are defending it because unpredictable swing state races are their preference.

    A system that replaces winner-take-all with proportional allocation of electors would have resulted in a tighter, closer race this year and actually delivered a numerical advantage to small states instead of just rolling the dice on which state happens to be closest to flipping. By allocating electors proportionally, every vote in every state would eventually be represented in the final tally, while still amplifying small state votes. It would also make third parties more viable, would cause every voter in the country to become valuable to campaigns, and would turn all 50 states into battleground states.

    It's sad that an issue about empowering the American voter always takes a backseat to the balance of power between the parties. "What do the Democrats deserve, what do the Republicans deserve?" Political parties don't deserve anything, but Americans do deserve a system where their vote gets counted; deserve better than an 18th century mess that flips nearly half the votes and renders 40+ states moot every election.

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