|State||Population||Electors||People Per Elector||Vote Power|
The way the "vote power" column was calculated is as follows. The United States has a population of 272,690,813. (Population numbers are taken from the US Census 1999 estimate, from this page.) Since there are 538 Electors in the Electoral College, the average Elector represents about 506,860. The large (in population) states are given approximately about as many Electors as is proportionate to their population. However, the smaller states are given up to 3 times as many Electors as they should get if they were handed out proportionately to their population. If you divide they average number of People Per Elector (506,860) by the People Per Elector from a particular state, you get the number of effective votes per person for that state. For example, from Wyoming, divide 506,860 by 159,867 and you see that a vote from Wyoming is worth about 3.17 times as much as the average American's vote.
An alternate way to do the calculation would be to divide the percent of the Electoral Vote the state takes up by the percent of the national population it takes up. Wyoming makes up 3/538 of the Electoral College, or about 0.558%. However, it only makes up (479,602 / 272,690,813) = 0.176% of the national vote. Divide those two numbers and you see that Wyoming's voters count (0.558% / 0.176%) = 3.17 times as much as they should if all votes were treated equally. Either way you do the calculation, you should get the same answer.
Is this fair?
Is it fair that 0.176% of the population (Wyoming) gets 0.558% voting power of who gets to be the next president? Or how about the people of California, who make up 12% of the country, but only get 10% of the Electoral Votes?
Winning the Popular Vote by 13% and still losing the election
Based on the fact that the Electoral College makes some Americans' votes more than others (votes from smaller states are generally worth more than votes from larger states), it is possible for one Candidate A to get 56.5% of the popular vote and still lose to Candidate B, who only got 43.5%.
Let's say Candidate A wins eleven of the most populous states: Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida, New York, Texas, and California. These states represent 56.5% of the population (154,051,863 people), but only 268 Electoral College votes. Candidate B wins the rest of the states (including D.C.), which represent 43.5% of the population (118,638,950 people) and 270 Electoral College votes, giving him (or her) the election.
Candidate A - 56.5% of popular vote, 268 Electoral Votes
Candidate B - 43.5% of popular vote, 270 Electoral Votes
Is it fair that someone could win the Popular Vote by a 13% margin and still lose the election?
Even Worse: Winning the Popular Vote by 56.5% and still losing the election
If we take into account that each state gives ALL of their Electoral Votes to a single candidate, even when he wins by a single vote, things get even worse. If Candidate B won Wyoming by a single vote (239,801 to 239,800) he would still get all 3 of Wyoming's Electors. Assuming this happened in all of Candidate B's states (winning each one by 50.001%), and assuming Candidate A won all of his states 100% to nothing, the margin gets a lot bigger. Candidate A could get 78.25% of the Popular Vote and still lose, compared to Candidate B's only 21.75%.
Candidate A - 78.25% of popular vote, 268 Electoral Votes
Candidate B - 21.75% of popular vote, 270 Electoral Votes
Does it seem fair that someone could win the Popular Vote by a 56.5% margin and still lose the election? Candidate A could get more than THREE TIMES as many popular votes as Candidate B and still LOSE the election. Does this seem like equal protection under the law?
Right now Gore leads by over 250,000 votes in the Popular Vote, but Bush could win the Electoral Vote if Florida goes his way. In the example above, the candidate who won by 56.5% of the Popular Vote still lost the election. With Candidate B winning even though the popular vote was 21.75% to 78.25%, THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE was CLEARLY disregarded. The votes of the extra 56.5% of the population who voted for Candidate A were not heard because of the unfair way the votes are counted into the Electoral College. Those voters were cheated, and their votes were not treated fairly. While not nearly as extreme as this example, the extra 250,000 people (about 1% of the population) who voted for Gore were also cheated, because their votes were not treated equally. Not unless the votes are given equal power, and every American voter is given equal protection under the law, is the will of the people honored.
This Electoral College analysis was done by Robert Glen.