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  #1  
Old 07-01-2010, 06:13 PM
Stoneburg Stoneburg is offline
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What is the minimum amount of votes needed?

Asuming 50% voter turnout in every state, what is the minimum amount of votes to win the presidency?
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  #2  
Old 07-01-2010, 07:07 PM
OldGuy OldGuy is offline
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I don't know the answer, but I think I can tell you how to determine it. Because electoral votes are equal to the number of Representatives plus Senators and because Representatives are approximately proportional to population, a candidate earns more electoral votes per each popular vote by winning the small states. So the minimum number of votes required to win the Presidency would be to pick the smallest states until you've accumulated 270 Electoral votes. You'd then need just over half of the voters in each of those states and none in the other states.

You'd have to modify this a little bit in case the smallest states in order didn't sum to exactly 270 Electoral votes. So you might want to pick a slightly larger state in place of one a bit smaller to just get there. It's also possible in Maine and Nebraska to split the Electoral Vote.

But if you want to get technical about it, the answer is zero. What you need is to have The Electoral votes split 269-268-1 amongst three candidates, with a "faithless" Elector casting his vote for someone who received no popular votes. Since no candidate has a majority of Electoral votes, the House decides from amongst the top three recipients of Electoral votes. And they then choose the guy with the single vote and no popular votes. Yes this is incredibly unrealistic, but so is winning half the Electoral votes and not getting any votes in the largest states.

Last edited by OldGuy; 07-01-2010 at 07:09 PM..
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  #3  
Old 07-01-2010, 11:16 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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I ran the numbers. To get exactly the 270 votes you need to be elected, you'd need to carry the following states: Virginia, New Jersey, Washington, Arizona,
Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Connecticut, Iowa, Oklahoma, Oregon, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, West Virginia, Nebraska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Alaska, Delaware, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Vermont plus the District Of Columbia. These states collectively have a population of 134,351,932, of whom 67,175,966 voted (per the 50% rule in the OP). We'll assume you got exactly 50% plus one of the votes in each state for a total of 33,588,023. Your opponent got 33,587,943 in these states.

Your opponent also got all the votes in the remaining eleven states: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Massachusetts. These states have a combined population of 172,654,618. With the 50% rule, that means he received 86,327,309 votes in these states plus the 33,587,943 he got above, for a total of 119,915,252 votes.

So the results are:
You: 33,588,023 votes - 270 electoral votes
Him: 119,915,252 votes - 268 electoral votes
Congratulations, Mr President. You now have a mandate from the people.
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  #4  
Old 07-02-2010, 01:46 AM
dtilque dtilque is offline
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Your numbers are too high, Nemo. A 50% voter turnout means half the registered voters voted. You used the total population rather than the number of registered voters.
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  #5  
Old 07-02-2010, 03:41 AM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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The abolute numbers may be different, but the ratio between the two vote totals would be the same, assuming the math is right and all states have approximately the same percentages of registered voters.

If so, it's theoretically possible to win with less than 25% of the popular vote.
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  #6  
Old 07-02-2010, 04:37 AM
Mogle Mogle is offline
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Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
Your numbers are too high, Nemo. A 50% voter turnout means half the registered voters voted. You used the total population rather than the number of registered voters.
Wait wait, in US when you measure voter turnout you only look at the people who actually register to vote, not at the the total number of citizen who are legally allowed to vote in the first place?
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  #7  
Old 07-02-2010, 06:18 AM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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Originally Posted by OldGuy View Post
But if you want to get technical about it, the answer is zero. What you need is to have The Electoral votes split 269-268-1 amongst three candidates, with a "faithless" Elector casting his vote for someone who received no popular votes.
Or, for that matter, "zero -- followed by a majority of 'faithless' electors."
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  #8  
Old 07-02-2010, 07:02 AM
US Bureau of Labor Statistics US Bureau of Labor Statistics is offline
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So really the minimum is 219 votes.

(1 faithless elector + 218 votes in the House)
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  #9  
Old 07-02-2010, 08:14 AM
bibliophage bibliophage is offline
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In order to win a state's electoral votes, you don't need to win a majority of votes cast, but only a plurality. To give just one example, Bill Clinton won all of Colorado's electors in 1992 though he won less than 40% of the popular vote in the three-way Bush-Clinton-Perot race. In a ten-way race, you could theoretically win all of a given state's electoral votes with just over 10% of the popular votes.

Every state currently holds popular elections to decide the allocation of electoral votes, but it's not a constitutional requirement. Any state could change its rules to allow the state legislature to appoint electors. That's the way electors were appointed in most states in the early years of the republic. George Washington got few, if any, popular votes.
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  #10  
Old 07-02-2010, 10:05 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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Your numbers are too high, Nemo. A 50% voter turnout means half the registered voters voted. You used the total population rather than the number of registered voters.
I'm leaving that as an exercise to the reader.
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  #11  
Old 07-02-2010, 10:16 AM
Munch Munch is offline
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Originally Posted by bibliophage View Post
In order to win a state's electoral votes, you don't need to win a majority of votes cast, but only a plurality.
So really, the answer is 22 - two votes going to you in the following states (and everyone else in the state voting for themselves):

CA, TX, NY, IL, FL, OH, PA, MI, GA, NC, and NJ for 271 Electoral College votes.
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  #12  
Old 07-02-2010, 04:55 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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Originally Posted by US Bureau of Labor Statistics View Post
So really the minimum is 219 votes.

(1 faithless elector + 218 votes in the House)
Wait, wouldn't this be the right answer? Electoral college votes are split 269 / 268 / 1, vote goes to the house. The house (435 voting members) splits 146 / 145 / 144, with the 146 House votes going to the candidate that had one electoral vote. The new President would have had 147 individuals voting for her! (Unless the House has to choose amongst the top three electoral college winners by a majority, not a plurality).

Is the right answer 147? Do I win a prize?
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  #13  
Old 07-02-2010, 05:02 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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P.S. I think my answer, if my assumption is true that the House of Representatives is able to choose the president via a plurality, has a smaller number of votes than Munch's answer. I would argue that in Munch's case, the president would have garnered 22 votes (popular) plus a minimum of 270 votes (electoral) for a total of 292. You get a smaller total if you go with the one faithless elector, then a person can become a viable candidate for the House election with just one vote.
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Last edited by Arnold Winkelried; 07-02-2010 at 05:05 PM..
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  #14  
Old 07-02-2010, 05:19 PM
jtgain jtgain is offline
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Originally Posted by US Bureau of Labor Statistics View Post
So really the minimum is 219 votes.

(1 faithless elector + 218 votes in the House)
But only a quorum (50%+) is required to do business in the House. So, if you had 218 members present (and the other 217 with more important things to do than decide the President of the United States) the guy could be elected with 110 (109+1) votes in the house, plus the faithless elector=111 votes total.

A win for me in the thread?

Last edited by jtgain; 07-02-2010 at 05:21 PM..
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  #15  
Old 07-02-2010, 05:24 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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But wait! I just checked the 12th Amendment. I was wrong, the House needs a majority to vote for the president. It says
Quote:
The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.
I am now changing my answer.

To elect the president, you need a quroum in the house. The quorum would be a member (or members) from 2/3 of the states. 2/3 of the states is 33 or 34 states. So 34 people, each representing a state, could be a quorum for electing the president in the House, right? Then it says "a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice", meaning that 26 states have to choose the same person. (I suppose the hypothetical could have more than 34 representatives present, as long as there are at least 26 states represented by only one person, and those 26 people end up being the "majority of all the states", whatever that means exactly.)

So my answer changes to:
1 faithless elector picks X, rest of electoral college is split 269/268 between Y and Z.

House votes on X, Y and Z. They have a quorum small enough that 26 people represent the "majority of all the states". A majority of the states (26 representatives) vote for X.

X became president with 27 votes (one elector, 26 representatives.)

Am I right or am I right? Right?
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  #16  
Old 07-02-2010, 05:25 PM
jtgain jtgain is offline
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I'm changing my answer: in this case, each state would only get one vote.

So, each state has one representative vote for a candidate while the other representatives abstain. 26 states vote for the winner, 24 for the loser.

26 reps + 1 faithless elector = 27 total votes for the new Prez.

Is my amended answer right?
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  #17  
Old 07-02-2010, 05:26 PM
jtgain jtgain is offline
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Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
But wait! I just checked the 12th Amendment. I was wrong, the House needs a majority to vote for the president. It says


I am now changing my answer.

To elect the president, you need a quroum in the house. The quorum would be a member (or members) from 2/3 of the states. 2/3 of the states is 33 or 34 states. So 34 people, each representing a state, could be a quorum for electing the president in the House, right? Then it says "a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice", meaning that 26 states have to choose the same person. (I suppose the hypothetical could have more than 34 representatives present, as long as there are at least 26 states represented by only one person, and those 26 people end up being the "majority of all the states", whatever that means exactly.)

So my answer changes to:
1 faithless elector picks X, rest of electoral college is split 269/268 between Y and Z.

House votes on X, Y and Z. They have a quorum small enough that 26 people represent the "majority of all the states". A majority of the states (26 representatives) vote for X.

X became president with 27 votes (one elector, 26 representatives.)

Am I right or am I right? Right?
CURSES CURSES! You beat me!
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  #18  
Old 07-02-2010, 05:28 PM
jtgain jtgain is offline
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Or, I amend my answer again. Only the full delegations of 34 states are present.

One votes for a candidate, while the others abstain.

Winner 18, Loser 16

18 reps + 1 faithless elector = 19 total votes!!!!

WIN?

Last edited by jtgain; 07-02-2010 at 05:29 PM..
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  #19  
Old 07-02-2010, 05:40 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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Except the amendment says you need a majority of all the states - wouldn't that mean more than 50 / 2 "yes" votes? If they mean a majority of the states present and making up the quorum, then I think you are the winner, jtgain.

Last edited by Arnold Winkelried; 07-02-2010 at 05:44 PM..
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Old 07-02-2010, 05:47 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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Originally Posted by jtgain View Post
Or, I amend my answer again. Only the full delegations of 34 states are present.
I'm not sure if you need the full delegation of the state to represent the state - maybe one representative for the state (with the other ones not showing up) is enough.
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  #21  
Old 07-02-2010, 05:51 PM
jtgain jtgain is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 12th amendment
But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.
Eeek. It's a bitter pill, but I will agree. A majority of ALL the states shall be necessary.

Your answer that beat me by two minutes wins, IMHO.

ETA: You are correct in the previous post. One member per state is sufficient and abstentions aren't necessary.

Last edited by jtgain; 07-02-2010 at 05:51 PM..
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  #22  
Old 07-02-2010, 05:54 PM
jtgain jtgain is offline
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But, let's say that I disagree and say that all is the smaller case all, and simply means all that are present. If the amendment mean truly all states, it would have the word "but" instead of "and" in "..two-thirds of the states, and a majority of.."

Can I appeal to the Supreme Court of Bricker et al. and get my 19 vote answer confirmed?

Last edited by jtgain; 07-02-2010 at 05:57 PM..
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  #23  
Old 07-02-2010, 05:56 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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Well, I count it as one minute, but whatever. That makes my victory all the sweeter! I promise I won't gloat about it too much.

ETA: are you flip-flopping and trying to steal away my victory? This shall not stand. I am the offended party, and I choose butterfly ballots at dawn.

Last edited by Arnold Winkelried; 07-02-2010 at 05:57 PM..
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  #24  
Old 07-02-2010, 06:02 PM
jtgain jtgain is offline
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Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
Well, I count it as one minute, but whatever. That makes my victory all the sweeter! I promise I won't gloat about it too much.

ETA: are you flip-flopping and trying to steal away my victory? This shall not stand. I am the offended party, and I choose butterfly ballots at dawn.
I am flip-flopping. The "and vs. but" analysis is damning for your cause. Your aggression will not stand, sir, as it is against the constitution of my state and I shall now bow down to such barbarism
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  #25  
Old 07-02-2010, 06:12 PM
jtgain jtgain is offline
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*NOT bow down
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  #26  
Old 07-02-2010, 08:53 PM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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What if I receive zero votes for President in each state, followed by getting zero such votes in the Electoral College, at which point the whole thing winds up in the House because no candidate got a majority. On a related note, the Senate is busily picking a VP: me.

As it happens, the House deadlocks, and inauguration day rolls around...
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  #27  
Old 07-02-2010, 09:44 PM
Cheshire Human Cheshire Human is offline
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Gerald Ford got zero votes as president. He just required Nixon to resign.
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  #28  
Old 07-02-2010, 10:38 PM
dtilque dtilque is offline
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Originally Posted by Mogle View Post
Wait wait, in US when you measure voter turnout you only look at the people who actually register to vote, not at the the total number of citizen who are legally allowed to vote in the first place?
AFAIK, that's the way they calculate it. Except in North Dakota, which apparently does not have voter registration.
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  #29  
Old 07-02-2010, 11:40 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I ran the numbers. To get exactly the 270 votes you need to be elected, you'd need to carry the following states: Virginia, New Jersey, Washington, Arizona,
Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Connecticut, Iowa, Oklahoma, Oregon, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, West Virginia, Nebraska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Alaska, Delaware, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Vermont plus the District Of Columbia. These states collectively have a population of 134,351,932, of whom 67,175,966 voted (per the 50% rule in the OP). We'll assume you got exactly 50% plus one of the votes in each state for a total of 33,588,023. Your opponent got 33,587,943 in these states.

Your opponent also got all the votes in the remaining eleven states: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Massachusetts. These states have a combined population of 172,654,618. With the 50% rule, that means he received 86,327,309 votes in these states plus the 33,587,943 he got above, for a total of 119,915,252 votes.

So the results are:
You: 33,588,023 votes - 270 electoral votes
Him: 119,915,252 votes - 268 electoral votes
Congratulations, Mr President. You now have a mandate from the people.
Sticking with this analysis, Maine and Nebraska can split their electoral votes. You have to win each of the congressional districts separately in those states to get all the electoral votes (the overall winner gets the two corresponding to the senate seats). 2 in Maine, 3 in Nebraska. You need a few more votes to get a clear 50% plus one victory in each of those districts to keep one of those electoral votes from slipping into your opponent's column and making it a 269 to 269 tie.
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  #30  
Old 07-03-2010, 12:58 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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Quote:
Gerald Ford got zero votes as president. He just required Nixon to resign.
His nomination to the vice presidency had to be confirmed by both houses of Congress, so that took 269 votes.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 07-03-2010 at 12:59 AM..
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  #31  
Old 07-03-2010, 02:52 AM
Captain Midnight Captain Midnight is offline
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For someone to be elected President of the United States, they must have the votes of at least 270 electors.

These electors are voted by the people of the respective state, with each state having the same number of electors as members of Congress. For example, my state of Tennessee has 11 electors, which means that Tn. has 9 House Representitives and 2 senators.

The electors who gets the MOST VOTES are elected electors. These elected electors go to their respective capital cities in December to vote their choices. (The President is not elected in the first Tuesday in November every 4 years, they are elected the next month by the electors.)

As I said before, to "win a state" requires only that the candidate gets more votes than his challenger. It is possible to win states with less than 50% of the vote easily. This is a link from the election of 1968. You can scan your cursor over the state and see the results. For example:

http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/

Nixon won Tennessee with 37.85% of the vote. Even though 62.15% of the voters voted AGAINST Nixon, Nixon won all the 11 electoral votes. Wallace won Arkansas by 38% of the vote and won the state's electoral votes. Nixon won the race with only 43% of the vote, although he won 56% of the electors.

Bill Clinton did not win the majority of the popular vote either time he ran for President. In 1992, he only won 43% of the vote, in 1996, he almost made a majority, but came up short at 49.2%.

There is nothing in the Constitution that requires an elector to have to vote for a particular candidate. Occasionally, an elector will be "faithless" and vote for someone else. In 1972, an elector from Virginia voted for the Libertarian Party ticket (and thus the first electoral vote to a female candidate who was running for the office of VP.

The electoral college is in my opinion, a screwball system that should be done away with or modified. It has worked reasonably well since the inception of the country. However, there has been disputed elections. 2000 for example. None on the 20th century, then the election of 1876 and 1824.

If the government really wants to keep this system, I would tinker with the formula. On election day, the people vote in their house district and vote for their elector. Instead of one candidate winning all the electors, split the electors up.

Several states are "top heavy" with large cities that basically decide elections, Illinois/Chicago. New York/NYC, even Nevada with Las Vegas are examples. Illinois and New York are actually conservative states whose votes "do not count" next to the voting clout of the urban areas. A better representation would be to split up the electors into seperate districts. The candidates, instead of barnstorming one state that is important, indeference to others out of reach or in the bag, the candidate will have to go to each individual place.
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Old 07-03-2010, 11:31 AM
jtgain jtgain is offline
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Originally Posted by The Other Waldo Pepper View Post
What if I receive zero votes for President in each state, followed by getting zero such votes in the Electoral College, at which point the whole thing winds up in the House because no candidate got a majority. On a related note, the Senate is busily picking a VP: me.

As it happens, the House deadlocks, and inauguration day rolls around...
Quote:
Originally Posted by 12th amendment
..and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President..
The person whom the House chooses must be in the top three, requiring at least 1 electoral vote.
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  #33  
Old 07-03-2010, 11:49 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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Quote:
Several states are "top heavy" with large cities that basically decide elections, Illinois/Chicago. New York/NYC, even Nevada with Las Vegas are examples. Illinois and New York are actually conservative states whose votes "do not count" next to the voting clout of the urban areas. A better representation would be to split up the electors into seperate districts. The candidates, instead of barnstorming one state that is important, indeference to others out of reach or in the bag, the candidate will have to go to each individual place.
That or just go with the simple and obvious solution you mentioned - eliminate the electoral college and have a direct national election for the Presidency. It would allow minority party voters - Republicans in predominantly Democratic states and Democrats in predominantly Republican states - to still effect the outcome of Presidential elections. Their votes wouldn't be lost by being grouped and discarded at a statewide level.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 07-03-2010 at 11:50 AM..
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  #34  
Old 07-03-2010, 05:00 PM
Munch Munch is offline
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Is someone allowed to be:

A member of the House of Representatives
An Electoral College member
A registered-to-vote citizen

All at the same time?
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  #35  
Old 07-03-2010, 05:39 PM
Stoneburg Stoneburg is offline
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Awesome thread response. Props to Nemo for doing the math. Obviously it has turned into two questions since I left out some parameters, which is great. I'll follow up with a more specific question:

What is the lowest percent of the popular vote needed to get 270 electoral votes? (basically win it "fair and square")

Or if we flip it, what is the maximum percent of the popular vote possible that would result in less than 270 electoral votes?


On a side not I am also interested in knowing whether voter turnout is based on registered voters or the sum of people who are legally able to vote.
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  #36  
Old 07-03-2010, 11:09 PM
audit1 audit1 is offline
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Originally Posted by Munch View Post
Is someone allowed to be:

A member of the House of Representatives
An Electoral College member
A registered-to-vote citizen

All at the same time?
A member of the Elecotral College can not be an office holder. They can be a voter
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  #37  
Old 07-04-2010, 01:54 AM
Captain Midnight Captain Midnight is offline
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Originally Posted by Stoneburg View Post
Awesome thread response. Props to Nemo for doing the math. Obviously it has turned into two questions since I left out some parameters, which is great. I'll follow up with a more specific question:

What is the lowest percent of the popular vote needed to get 270 electoral votes? (basically win it "fair and square")

Or if we flip it, what is the maximum percent of the popular vote possible that would result in less than 270 electoral votes?


On a side not I am also interested in knowing whether voter turnout is based on registered voters or the sum of people who are legally able to vote.
Hello,

How many percentage? There isn't an answer to that.

For a candidate to win a state, they have to win more votes than second place. A plurality. So, someone can win a state, or win an election with less than 10% of the vote, as long as they have more votes per state than their challengers.

Richard Nixon in 1968 and Bill Clinton in 1992 only won 43% of the vote, which means 57% of the voters voted for someone else. In the 1968 race, Gov. George Wallace, who was a Third Party Candidate ran strong in the south. He won a majority in Mississippi and Alabama, but only a plurality in Louisiana and Georgia. Likewise, Nixon only won 37% of the vote in Tennessee, but since Nixon garnered more votes than Humphrey or Wallace, he won all of Tennessee's 11 electorial votes.

In the elections of 1968, 1992, 1996, and 2000, the winner of the election did not win the majority of the votes cast. In 1984, Walter Mondale did not win the majority of the voters of the one state he won in Minnesota, like all the other 49 he lost. He just won a plurality of votes.

In the election of 2004, Kerry lost the election to Bush by 120,000 votes in Ohio. If those 120,000 Ohioans voted for Kerry instead of Bush, Kerry would have won the election, even though he lost nationally by 3 million votes.

Basically about 45% of voters will vote Democratic or Republican, about 2% will vote third parties, which leaves about 8% independent voters. Now in some elections, one candidate and one party are more popular than the other, which will cause a bit of that 45% to defect the other way. Or what we have saw in '68, 92', 96' and 00' that a number of voters will vote for a third party candidate.

I think that after 911, that the American people have taken voting a bit more seriously. In a lot of elections in the late 20th Century, about 50% of the people would turn out to an election. Let's look at the 1984 election. Reagan won something like 55% of the vote. However, only 50% of the electorate went to the polls. Which means that Reagan only received the vote of about 28% of all eligiable voters. 28% voted for Reagan, about 20% voted for Mondale, while the other 52% stayed at home. Now granted, most people thought to themselves, "Fk it, Reagan is going to win, I am not going to waste my time with voting", BUT, there were a lot of other candidates on the ballot who ended up with the same percentage of votes, a majority of the minority who cares.

I hope I cleared up some of your questions.
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  #38  
Old 07-04-2010, 03:41 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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Let's try it this way:

You need 270 votes to win. Electoral College = Senators (100) + Representatives (435) + 3 EC votes for DC = 538. Majority 538/2 = 269. Need 270

Minimum number of states to get 270 = 11

State = EC Votes (Voted in 2008) [needed to win state]

CA = 55 (13,561,900) [6,780,951]
TX = 34 (8,078,524) [4,039,263]
NY = 31 (7,640,643) [3,820,322]
FL = 27 (8,390,744) [4,195,373]
PA = 21 (5,996,229) [2,998,115]
IL = 21 (5,522,371) [2,761,186]
OH = 20 (5,708,350) [2,854,176]
MI = 17 (5,001,766) [2,500,884]
NC = 15 (4,312,395) [2,156,198]
GA = 15 (3,924,486) [1,962,244]
NJ = 15 (3,868,237) [1,934,119]

Total States 11
Total Electoral Votes 271
Total Number of votes 36,002,831

Total voters in 2008 election = 131,296,984

To win the 2008 election in a two person race, with least number of states and least amount of popular votes 36,002,831 or 27.42% of the popular vote

There are so many ways of answering this question it's impossible to list them all.

You can already see it's interesting that NY has more people than Florida but less number of voters for the 2008 election. Why? Probably 'cause NY was a solid Obama state, while Florida was sitting on the fence. So fewer people bothered to vote in New York state
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  #39  
Old 07-04-2010, 01:01 PM
jtgain jtgain is offline
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Originally Posted by Stoneburg View Post
What is the lowest percent of the popular vote needed to get 270 electoral votes? (basically win it "fair and square")
Well, I guess if you had tens of thousands of candidates with roughly the same support, you could get a percentage of the popular vote that approaches zero.
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Old 07-04-2010, 03:14 PM
OldGuy OldGuy is offline
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Originally Posted by Markxxx View Post
Let's try it this way:You need 270 votes to win. Electoral College = Senators (100) + Representatives (435) + 3 EC votes for DC = 538. Majority 538/2 = 269. Need 270

Minimum number of states to get 270 = 11

CA = 55 (13,561,900) [6,780,951]

...

To win the 2008 election in a two person race, with least number of states and least amount of popular votes 36,002,831 or 27.42% of the popular vote
As I stated in a post a while back. Winning the electoral vote by winning the least number of states is not the most efficient way to win the election in terms of popular vote. If you win the least populous states rather than the most populous states, you can win with fewer popular votes.

Basically the number of representatives is proportional to the population, but electoral votes equals number of representatives plus 2. You could pick up the almost the same 55 electoral votes that California has by winning
3: AK DC DL MT ND SD VT WY = 24 EV (8 Reps)
4: HI ID ME NH RI = 20 (10 reps)
5: NB NV = 10 (6 Reps)

These states have 24 Representatives to California's 53 so they have less than half the total population.

This is assuming only two candidates getting any po9pular vote, which I think is the spirit of the OP's question.

Last edited by OldGuy; 07-04-2010 at 03:15 PM..
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  #41  
Old 07-04-2010, 03:54 PM
Clothahump Clothahump is offline
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Originally Posted by Mogle View Post
Wait wait, in US when you measure voter turnout you only look at the people who actually register to vote, not at the the total number of citizen who are legally allowed to vote in the first place?
No, for voter turnout, we look at the number of people who bothered to get up off their lazy asses and go to the polls.
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  #42  
Old 07-04-2010, 05:53 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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I'll follow up with a more specific question:

What is the lowest percent of the popular vote needed to get 270 electoral votes? (basically win it "fair and square")
Taking into consideration Munch's post (11th in this thread) and Captain Midnight's post (37th in this thread), you need to also specify the highest percentage of votes you are going to allow for people that are not one of the two main candidates. Otherwise, the theoretical minimum can be very small (Munch came up with a scenario in which 22 votes was enough to elect the president.)

There are so many variables here, that the best answer you can come up would be the answer to "what is the lowest percentage of the popular vote has any winning presidential candidate had in the past?"
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  #43  
Old 07-04-2010, 07:25 PM
jtgain jtgain is offline
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Originally Posted by Munch View Post
So really, the answer is 22 - two votes going to you in the following states (and everyone else in the state voting for themselves):

CA, TX, NY, IL, FL, OH, PA, MI, GA, NC, and NJ for 271 Electoral College votes.
Why not 11? One person voting for you in each state while the rest of the state sleeps off their hangovers and doesn't vote.
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  #44  
Old 07-04-2010, 08:42 PM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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Originally Posted by jtgain View Post
The person whom the House chooses must be in the top three, requiring at least 1 electoral vote.
You missed my point: I'm not the person whom the House chooses.

I'm postulating a scenario where the House is considering guys who did receive at least 1 electoral vote; the Senate merely chooses me to be VP while the House -- well, as it happens, the House winds up busily deadlocked over who should be President, which means I become President on Inauguration Day.

(And if the Senate had likewise deadlocked, then come Inauguration Day it's the Speaker of the House who'd get sworn in as President despite having received zero votes.)
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  #45  
Old 07-04-2010, 10:18 PM
jtgain jtgain is offline
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Originally Posted by The Other Waldo Pepper View Post
You missed my point: I'm not the person whom the House chooses.

I'm postulating a scenario where the House is considering guys who did receive at least 1 electoral vote; the Senate merely chooses me to be VP while the House -- well, as it happens, the House winds up busily deadlocked over who should be President, which means I become President on Inauguration Day.

(And if the Senate had likewise deadlocked, then come Inauguration Day it's the Speaker of the House who'd get sworn in as President despite having received zero votes.)
But the Senate would have to cast votes to install you as VP, either 51 or 34 depending on the discussion above, and you also would have to be one of the top two candidates in Electoral Votes.

Likewise the Speaker of the House got that position by gaining a large number of votes in his/her district to become a member of Congress, and got a majority of votes from Congressmen to be elected speaker.
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Old 07-05-2010, 02:47 AM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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But the Senate would have to cast votes to install you as VP, either 51 or 34 depending on the discussion above, and you also would have to be one of the top two candidates in Electoral Votes.
But nobody cast a vote for me to be President: not a single popular vote or a single electoral vote, not for that job. Sure, you can note that I got 34 or 51 votes to be VP after maybe 1 faithless elector voted to make me VP -- but (a) nobody else gave me even one vote for that, and (b) those 35 or 52 votes were solely for whether I should be named VP -- which, as it happens, never happens, since I just go straight to being the new President.

(That said, what happens if the Senate deadlocks on who should be the next VP, and the House deadlocks on who should be our next President, and both the House Speaker and the Senate's Pro Tem Prez are disqualified from succession?)
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Old 07-05-2010, 02:56 AM
dtilque dtilque is offline
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Originally Posted by Clothahump View Post
No, for voter turnout, we look at the number of people who bothered to get up off their lazy asses and go to the polls.
You missed the point. Voter turnout is the number of people who actually voted divided by the total number of voters. The question is: How do you determine the total number of voters? Apparently in some countries, it's the number of people legally eligible to vote, whereas in the US, it's usually taken as the number of registered voters. I suspect that the reason for this in the US is that the election office knows how many are registered but not the other number.
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  #48  
Old 07-05-2010, 03:05 AM
dtilque dtilque is offline
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(That said, what happens if the Senate deadlocks on who should be the next VP, and the House deadlocks on who should be our next President, and both the House Speaker and the Senate's Pro Tem Prez are disqualified from succession?)
If any of the cabinet members of the outgoing administration have not resigned, the highest on the succession order becomes president. If they've all resigned or are not qualified, then we have no president until the deadlock is broken in one of the houses of Congress.
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  #49  
Old 07-05-2010, 09:19 AM
jtgain jtgain is offline
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Originally Posted by The Other Waldo Pepper View Post
But nobody cast a vote for me to be President: not a single popular vote or a single electoral vote, not for that job. Sure, you can note that I got 34 or 51 votes to be VP after maybe 1 faithless elector voted to make me VP -- but (a) nobody else gave me even one vote for that, and (b) those 35 or 52 votes were solely for whether I should be named VP -- which, as it happens, never happens, since I just go straight to being the new President.

(That said, what happens if the Senate deadlocks on who should be the next VP, and the House deadlocks on who should be our next President, and both the House Speaker and the Senate's Pro Tem Prez are disqualified from succession?)
Under this standard, you could take any VP that ascended to the Presidency, since that person only received votes to be VP, not the President.
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  #50  
Old 07-05-2010, 10:37 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Originally Posted by Captain Midnight View Post
For someone to be elected President of the United States, they must have the votes of at least 270 electors.

These electors are voted by the people of the respective state, with each state having the same number of electors as members of Congress. For example, my state of Tennessee has 11 electors, which means that Tn. has 9 House Representitives and 2 senators.

The electors who gets the MOST VOTES are elected electors. These elected electors go to their respective capital cities in December to vote their choices. (The President is not elected in the first Tuesday in November every 4 years, they are elected the next month by the electors.)

As I said before, to "win a state" requires only that the candidate gets more votes than his challenger. It is possible to win states with less than 50% of the vote easily. This is a link from the election of 1968. You can scan your cursor over the state and see the results. For example:

http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/

Nixon won Tennessee with 37.85% of the vote. Even though 62.15% of the voters voted AGAINST Nixon, Nixon won all the 11 electoral votes. Wallace won Arkansas by 38% of the vote and won the state's electoral votes. Nixon won the race with only 43% of the vote, although he won 56% of the electors.

Bill Clinton did not win the majority of the popular vote either time he ran for President. In 1992, he only won 43% of the vote, in 1996, he almost made a majority, but came up short at 49.2%.

There is nothing in the Constitution that requires an elector to have to vote for a particular candidate. Occasionally, an elector will be "faithless" and vote for someone else. In 1972, an elector from Virginia voted for the Libertarian Party ticket (and thus the first electoral vote to a female candidate who was running for the office of VP.

The electoral college is in my opinion, a screwball system that should be done away with or modified. It has worked reasonably well since the inception of the country. However, there has been disputed elections. 2000 for example. None on the 20th century, then the election of 1876 and 1824.

If the government really wants to keep this system, I would tinker with the formula. On election day, the people vote in their house district and vote for their elector. Instead of one candidate winning all the electors, split the electors up.

Several states are "top heavy" with large cities that basically decide elections, Illinois/Chicago. New York/NYC, even Nevada with Las Vegas are examples. Illinois and New York are actually conservative states whose votes "do not count" next to the voting clout of the urban areas. A better representation would be to split up the electors into seperate districts. The candidates, instead of barnstorming one state that is important, indeference to others out of reach or in the bag, the candidate will have to go to each individual place.
Yes and no. You can postulate serious imbalances, and sometimes the guy with a few percent less wins the electoral college (maybe with the help of the Supremem Court). But generally, the process works and emphasizes winning, especially in a 3-way race.

From what I've heard - The purpose of the electoral college was to prevent what happens in big states - winning a single area with an overbalance of population takes the election, so the lesser areas are impotent. Oddly enough, because of the "2 electors for 2 senators" rule, these exercises above put more power into the hands of smaller states. The concern was that a candidate after Washington would take a few populous areas and the other colonies would be ruled by someone always from Pennsylvania or New York or Virginia, the bigger states.

In fact, one commentary I heard was that unless a person was as popular as Washington, he probably would not get a majority in the electoral college and it would be up to the duly elected house of congress to pick the leader. The framers of the constitution did not forsee the quick rise of country-wide party politics.

Originally the rule was each elector got 2 votes, and the one with most votes was president and second-most votes, vice president. Not long after (Jefferson?) the party discipline was so good that the president and VP on the ticket got equal votes, forcing the tie into the congress who picked the third candidate on the list. Ah, party politics!
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