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## The Electoral College: Origins, Consequences, and Flaws

#### January 27th, 2019, 11:14pm by Sam Wang

I have some thoughts on the Electoral College. I hope you don’t mind the Twitter format!

### 8 Comments so far ↓

• Marc

Good analysis. But, why did you exclude the nine presidential elections from 1788 to 1820?

• The popular vote wasn’t tabulated in those years. It became an issue with the disputed election of 1824.

• LondonYoung

Sam – I would have thought your response to the first tweet would be different.

I expected you to rank order all the states by electoral-vote-to-population ratio, then go down the list until you reached 270, and calculate half the population of those states … and then point out “with the EC system you only need n% of the voters to win where n << 50". "Isn't n shockingly low?"

• LondonYoung

So, I couldn’t resist:

43% of the people who cast votes in 2016 live in states with 270 electoral votes.
Assume a candidate wins those states with, say, 50% of the vote.
Assume the main loser takes 100% of the rest of the country.

In this case, the election can be won with 21.5% of the vote to the loser’s 78.5%.

• Well done, and I have no quarrel with your arithmetic. However, there is a whiff of descending to his level of wrongheadedness there!

• LondonYoung

Yeah, I agree.

By the way, I wasted my time sharpening my pencil because the end result is not really much more shocking than the standard 25/75 argument which applies to all indirect representation systems.

• Matthew J. McIrvin

You could make the numbers essentially as extreme as you like by assuming more implausible conditions: suppose almost nobody votes in the states the winner took, but tens of millions vote in the loser’s states; then the winner can win with close to 0%. But more realistic scenarios are probably more convincing, and the real world has provided them.