Electoral College Vote Bias During The 2016 Presidential Election

Updated August 31, 2020

TASA ID: 3831

The following report is a detailed study relating to the imperfections of the Electoral College. Of the five presidents who have won the presidency without receiving the most popular votes, two of them (President George W. Bush and President Trump) have been elected since 2000. For the most part, as long as the winning president received the most popular votes, the details relating to the Electoral College were given little thought. However, due to the amount of confusion and frustration concerning presidential elections since 2000, it is becoming more necessary to explain to Americans how the Electoral College actually works.

The following analysis examines the workings of the Electoral College (EC) from two standpoints. The first will explain that based on the US Constitution, the purpose of the EC was primarily to allocate the number of electoral votes that each state would receive. Therefore, this was an electoral allocation between the states. However, this process did nothing to determine how the electors within each state should vote for the president and vice-president. Regarding this latter question, the Constitution was silent leaving it up to each state to determine how the votes of the electors would be decided among the various presidential candidates. My analysis separately determines how the electoral vote is allocated both between and within each state from the standpoint of the 2016 presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The premise of this study is that the presidential victor should be based on a national popular vote basis. Given this premise the study will quantify how Ms. Clinton’s actual popular vote majority of 51.1% was translated into a national electoral vote percentage of only 43.1%. This difference of 8.0% will be split between the small state and all or nothing biases at both the state and regional level, giving the study a bottom-up statistical approach from the local to national level.

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