US Presidential Polls: Not The Public, Electoral College Decides Who Heads To White House

The trends have started pouring in already for one of the most high profile elections in the world. While Joe Biden appears to be moving ahead in the race to White House leaving Donald Trump behind, one needs to keep in mind that it is all but possible that the candidate with the most votes from the public may not be the winner.

Why so? It is because in the United States, the President isn’t directly chosen by voters, but by the Electoral College.

What is the Electoral College?

When Americans vote, they actually vote for a group of officials who make up the Electoral College. College essentially means a group of people with a shared task. Here the people are electors and their job is to choose the President and Vice President.

As is customary, the Electoral College meets every four years, a few weeks after election day, for this purpose.

How does Electoral College work?

In sync with the population, each state has corresponding number of electors. Each state gets as many electors as it has lawmakers in the US Congress (representatives in the House and senators).

A quick overview show California has the most electors – 55 – while some sparsely populated states like Wyoming, Alaska, North Dakota and Washington DC have the minimum of three electors. New York and Florida have 29 electors each while Texas has 38 electors.

There are 538 electors in total. Each elector represents one electoral vote, and a candidate needs to gain a majority of the Electoral College votes – 270 or more – to win the race to the White House.

Generally, states award all their electoral college votes to whoever won the poll of ordinary voters in the state.

For example, if a candidate wins over 50 per cent of the vote in Texas, they will be awarded all of the state’s 38 electoral votes. Else, a candidate could win by a landslide and still pick up the same number of electoral votes.

It’s therefore possible for a candidate to become President by winning a number of tight races in certain states, despite having fewer votes across the country. Which explains the dependency on ‘Swing States’.

Look back at the past

In two out of the last five elections, candidates who had fewer votes from the general public than their rivals won the Presidency.

2016: Donald Trump won the Presidency in spite of having almost three million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton as Electoral College gave him a majority.

2000: George W Bush won with 271 electoral votes, although Democrat candidate Al Gore won the popular vote by more than half a million.

ALSO READ: US Elections 2020 LIVE: Trump wins in Indiana, Kentucky as Biden takes Virginia, Vermont

 

 

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