Who would have won the 2016 presidency if all states' electors were allocated proportionally?

  • Hypothetically, if all states were to allocate their electors proportionally to the votes in their state, who would have won the last election?

    That is, let's say that there was a constitutional amendment in place that, instead of abolishing the electoral college, required that the votes be split in each state (somewhat like ME and NE but simpler.) The simplest system would be that each voter would be voting for a specific elector but let's assume a round-half-even approach to splitting up each states electors gives us a approximation of that. Or alternately, assume each citizen gets to vote for one elector for the congressional district and one senator electoral vote (each state split in half.)

    Also, let's ignore that such a system could have a profound impact on voting behavior and assume that the proportions of votes per candidate in each state would be consistent to what we saw in the actual election.

    In theory, it would better match the popular vote...but given the limited number of electors, you'd could still have huge discrepancies from the actual popular vote given demographics (as small populations states still have an advantage over high population states).

    Since the popular vote is so close, the answer would depend on whom the rounding errors favor on average, so it is purely random (and hence of doubtful political interest). That should be easy to compute, however, at least when we have all the votes counted.

    Excuse-me, my preceding comment was stupid. I forgot that the number of delegates attributed to a state is not proportional to its population. (Too much politics in three days). Now I understand why the question is interesting: in the difference between the result of the electoral college and a direct national vote, we want to understand separately what is due to the fact that states vote with the "majority takes all" system, and what is due to the number of delegates attributed to each state. Interesting, +1.

    @Joel It's also not proportional to the number of voters so that could also create a discrepancy.

    Even for proportional representation, there are many different ways of allocating posts: d'Hondt (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%27Hondt_method), Imperiali (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperiali_quota), Droop (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Droop_quota) and others. They have different results, which give small differences, so one method should be stablished.

    Based upon the current voting process or a realm where this was applied. If electoral votes were assigned proportionally, the campaigns would be more apt to spend money in states assured to give a majority of its votes to the opposition, e.g. Republicans would spend money in California to maximize the voter turn out, even though the expected to lose there.

    @DrunkCynic I'm not sure how that relates to the question. It's not that the electors would be allocated any differently, it just that there would be no winner-takes-all system.

    If it is restricted to the results from the previous election, the math is possible. If the scope accounts for the resulting change in campaigning strategy, it becomes a large hypothetical problem that can't be answered.

    Would you consider it inside the scope of you question to have electors assigned in accordance with the House of Representative districts, while the other two are assigned in accordance with the popular vote. Both for a super majority from the popular vote, split for results less than a super majority.

    @DrunkCynic I added another option related to congressional districts. As I look at the data, for the rounding approach to work, some assumptions need to be made around 3 and 4th and 22nd candidates so congresional districts would probably make the most sense. I'm not sure what to do with the other two votes. In my state I only get to vote for one senator but I'm don't think that's necessarily a rule.

    I wouldn't be at all surprised if the alternative (the approach currently used by Nebraska and Maine) would make for an even more lopsided electoral outcome due to gerrymandering.

    @DavidHammen Good point. I hadn't considered that.

  • I calculated the vote allocation using the Webster/Sainte-Laguë method (based on results as of November 9, 2016) applied to each individual state:

    • Clinton 263
    • Trump 262
    • Johnson 10
    • Stein 2
    • McMullin 1

    In the spirit of the Electoral College giving less populous states a boost in the vote, I altered the formula to award 2 votes per state to the winner of the popular vote of that state, and the remainder allocated via Webster/Sainte-Laguë:

    • Trump 269
    • Clinton 259
    • Johnson 7
    • Stein 2
    • McMullin 1

    For comparison, here I applied Webster/Sainte-Laguë to the entire United States population without splitting them based on state:

    • Clinton 256
    • Trump 255
    • Johnson 17
    • Stein 1
    • McMullin 1
    • Other 8 (these were not separated in the data source)

    This is the kind of thing I was looking for. Great answer.

    For your second breakdown, "I altered the formula to award 2 votes per state to the winnder of the popular vote" You mean the popular vote in each state?

    @sturgman Yes, thank you. I have added that clarification.

    Fascinating nobody reaches the 270 to claim a majority (only a plurality).

    @JesseC.Slicer It's one of the features that strongly encourages a national two party system. We had plurality-only results early in the country's history, which were all such a mess that it resulted in constitutional amendments to try to fix it, and political bickering and rage that'd actually compete with modern day behaviors.

License under CC-BY-SA with attribution


Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM