The Electoral College vs. Popular Vote

It hasn't happened often, but what would happen if the electoral college vote and popular vote are split?

It's a close race, no doubt about that. The two candidates are neck and neck in virtually every poll.

If you look at the attached Electoral Map, you'll quickly see that the majority of states are red, but the number of electoral college votes go to President Obama. 

So what is this electoral college?

The electoral college is a process, not a place, according to the U.S. National Archives. The electors are nominated at either their State party conventions or by votes from the state's central committee. 

According to the Archives, "Electors are often chosen to recognize service and dedication to their political party. They may be State-elected officials, party leaders, or persons who have a personal or political affiliation with the Presidential candidate."

Voters in each state choose the electors by casting votes for the presidential candidate of their choice on election day, according to the Archives. In some states, the names of the electors appear on the ballot below the name of the candidates. The winning candidate in the state's elections are awarded all the electoral votes (except in Nebraska and Maine).

-----How do you think the election will go down tomorrow? Will the electoral vote differ from the popular? Make a prediction in the poll at the bottom of this article. 

No federal law requires that the electors vote for who the general population voted for. (Some states do, but Georgia is not one of those states.) Electors generally vote for the popular vote in their state, however.

So who are these people who select the next president of the United States? In 2008, the Georgia electors were Esther Clark, Dennis Coxwell, Norma Edenfield, Randy Evans, Sue P. Everhart, Leigh Ann Gillis, Judy Goddard, Linda Herren, Rufus Montgomery, Clint Murphy, Sunny Park, Alec Poitevint, John Sours, Allan Vigil and John White. Each person cast their vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin, since that was the popular vote.   

How does it work?

A total of 538 electors exist. A majority of 270 decide the presidency. Allocations of electoral votes are based on the most recent census. 

On Dec. 16, the electors will get together to cast their votes. On Jan. 6, Congress will count the votes and make it official. 

Throughout history, four presidents lost the popular vote but won the electoral: John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888 and George W. Bush in 2000. 

(On a side note: this basically ensures that an independent candidate has no chance of ever becoming president.)

Why does it even exist?

Because, when it was first formed in 1788, information was hard to come by. They didn't want the vote to fall to people who may not know all the facts. Some thought that Congress should select the president, others thought it should be based purely on popular decision. The Electoral College was the compromise. 

The division of electoral votes are as follows:

  • Alabama - 9
  • Alaska - 3
  • Arizona - 11
  • Arkansas - 6
  • California - 55
  • Colorado - 9
  • Connecticut - 7
  • Delaware - 3
  • D.C. - 3
  • Florida - 29
  • Georgia - 16
  • Hawaii - 4
  • Idaho - 4
  • Illinois - 20
  • Indiana - 11
  • Iowa - 6
  • Kansas - 6
  • Kentucky - 8
  • Louisiana - 8
  • Maine - 4
  • Maryland - 10
  • Massachussetts - 11
  • Michigan - 16
  • Minnesota - 10
  • Mississippi - 6
  • Missouri - 10
  • Montana - 3
  • Nebraska - 5
  • Nevada - 6
  • New Hampshire - 4
  • New Jersey - 14
  • New Mexico - 5
  • New York - 29
  • North Carolina - 15
  • North Dakota - 3
  • Ohio - 18
  • Oklahoma - 7
  • Oregon - 7
  • Pennsylvania - 20
  • Rhode Island - 4
  • South Carolina - 9
  • South Dakota - 3
  • Tennessee - 11
  • Texas - 38
  • Utah - 6
  • Vermont - 3
  • Virginia - 13
  • Washington - 12
  • West Virginia - 5
  • Wisconsin - 10
  • Wyoming - 3

Stay Patched in on Election Night! For results, color, interviews and photos throughout the day, follow Napa Valley Patch on Twitter | Like Napa Valley Patch on Facebook | Sign up for the daily email with links to the latest news | Got something to say? Start a blog and share your views.

pl carlson November 07, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Hey!. Romney lost the popular vote also. And i also think we need to get rid of the electoral college and go only with the popular vote, people today knows what is happening in minutes.This is not the horse and buggy days.
John Herby Hancock November 07, 2012 at 09:49 PM
I agree. I'm not arguing who should have been elected.
oopsfighter November 08, 2012 at 04:44 AM
If it is on popular vote who will care about the small states like Rhode Island , New Hampsher or Vermont . The candidate(s) will dominantly campaigning in big states like California or New York and so on that wont be faire.
Shripathi Kamath November 08, 2012 at 09:03 PM
So you'd be OK with the consequences? No one will care to canvass for votes in Alaska, Dakotas, Idaho, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming, Vermont, Montana...and will basically park themselves in California, Texas, New York, Illinois, Florida... Hmm, here's something that Republicans should consider if the above list does not raise alarms: http://www.themindisaterriblething.com/2012/11/factoid.html Then again, speed at which information spread in 1780s was not the driving force behind the electoral college, so maybe the above is what Republicans really want. Why? I can't say, given that Romney did not win either vote
John Herby Hancock November 08, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Oh they would canvess the small states; you bet they would. Now chill out and go have a Steak!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »