I’ve noticed an interesting fact about the Electoral College vote coming up in 14 months. Perhaps this observation is more appropriate for Mundane-Pointless but it does have direct bearing on the election. (I’ll guess Nate Silver figured this out long ago, but I noticed it independently and this is my show-and-tell. )
I start with the assumption that a 269-269 tie would lead to a Republican President (though perhaps a Democratic Vice Pres). Is this correct?
To present the arithmetic fact, one needs a list of swing states. The specifics of the list of swing states does not affect the interesting arithmetic fact. If you disagree that Pennsylvania or Wisconsin is a swing state, just cross it off the list – the result is the same. If you “need” to vocalize your belief that PA or WI isn’t a swing state, please start another thread. Note that for our purpose here “swing state” does not mean state likely to go either way, but means*** state likely to go either way if the election is close**.*
To prepare the list of swing states I’ve considered not just 1st statistical parameter (redness vs blueness) but 2nd parameter as well (Silver’s “elasticity”). Ohio and Florida are the biggest swing states of all, but we can ignore them for this purpose: Because if the Democrats win either of them, Democrats take the White House; all the other swing states become irrelevant. (Similarly, optimists think it’s far more likely that Democrats take North Carolina than that the GOP takes Pennsylvania, but only close elections are relevant to this type of analysis.)
Consider the seven swing states (shown with electoral votes and “point” defined below):
Pennsylvania 20 (3) Virginia 13 (2) Wisconsin 10 (2) Colorado 9 (1) Iowa 6 (1) Nevada 6 (1) New Hampshire 4 (1)
The electoral vote stands at 253-217 if the other 44 states split as expected. The GOP needs 16 votes from the swing states to win.
The curious arithmetic fact is that you needn’t memorize the electoral votes to see who wins when. Just the final column (3-2-2-1-1-1-1) is good enough. The GOP needs three of these “points.” (A sole exception is the unlikely Wisconsin-New Hampshire combo: 3 “points” but not quite enough for GOP victory.)
In other words, Colorado, with 9 electoral votes is no more valuable than New Hampshire with just 4 electoral votes!