270 to Win

Gaming the Electoral College

Don't like the results? Change the rules!

Background: A number of alternatives to the 'winner-take-all' electoral vote allocation have been considered by state legislatures. These ideas usually surface in states where the legislative party in power has been unsuccessful in winning the presidential popular vote. To that end, many of the recent proposals have been in electoral-rich, Republican-controlled states that have consistently gone 'blue' in presidential elections. To date, none of these initiatives have succeeded.*

Directions: Use the interactive map below to see how alternative methods would have affected the results had they been in place for the 2012 presidential election. Select a View to see the impact of one method in all states; click any individual state to rotate its method. An explanation of each methodology is farther down the page.

Select a View

Winner Take All (WTA)
Congressional District - Popular (CDP)
Congressional District - Majority (CDM)
Proportional Popular - Popular (PPV)
 

Electoral Vote Totals

Dem

Rep

Actual 2012

332

206

Change

Based on your selections

Revised 2012



The map below displays the proportional allocation of electoral votes in each state, based on the methods you've chosen in the top map. Hover over any state to see the numerical impact of any changes.

Democrat
Republican
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90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%


Portion of electoral votes based on selected allocation method.

Allocation Methods

It is important to note that a campaign would adjust to any changes in allocation methods. For example, the Obama campaign expended resources in an ultimately successful bid to win one of Nebraska's electoral votes in 2008. They would not have made the effort except for the allocation method used there. Therefore, the actual results of an election might be significantly different than what we see here by applying new methodologies after-the-fact.

Winner Take All (WTA) allocates all electoral votes to the popular vote winner of the state. This is the current methodology in all but Maine and Nebraska.

Congressional District - Popular (CDP) awards two electoral votes to the popular vote winner of the state, with one each allocated to the popular vote winner in each individual Congressional District. This is the methodology currently used by Maine and Nebraska. It has also been considered by a number of other states.

Congressional District - Majority (CDM) awards two electoral votes to the party winning the popular vote in a majority of the Congressional Districts, with one each allocated to the popular vote winner in each individual Congressional District. This is a methodology proposed, but ultimately discarded, in Virginia.

Proportional Popular - Popular (PPV) awards two electoral votes to the popular vote winner, with the remainder allocated based on the percentage of popular vote earned. This is the methodology proposed in Pennsylvania in February, 2013. Note that of all the approaches on this page, this one is the most likely to lead to the award of an electoral vote(s) to a 3rd party candidate. If this method had been used in California during the 2012 election, and assuming the same outcome, the Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson would have earned one electoral vote. A variation of this method, purely based on proportional vote, was considered by Colorado in 2004.

Optimal Rule Changes

In the Select a View dropdown, you can also choose to start by viewing the optimal configuration from each party's perspective. If you choose Optimal Democrat or Optimal Republican, you'll see the allocation method that is most beneficial to that party, based on 2012 results. Where there is a tie, we prioritize based on the order the methods are listed below the top map. So, Winner Take All has top priority, Proportional Popular - Popular the lowest. This is a completely arbitrary ordering.

* Nebraska and Maine's allocations were enacted well before the current activity in this area. Maine's has been in effect since the 1972 election, Nebraska's since 1996. Data on winners by Congressional District courtesy of Daily Kos. Our use does not imply an endorsement of that site's political point of view. The 3 electoral votes for Washington DC are awarded to the Democrats in all 4 methodologies.


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