Breaking Down the Numbers

Devin Conway

Numbers Don’t Lie

This frustrating and emotionally-draining election cycle has pinned communities against one another, ruined friendships and led to mass hysteria on both sides of the aisle. 

There have been allegations of almost every type of crime imaginable, fear-inducing propaganda at levels we haven’t seen since the Cold War and little to no substantive debate on the dire issues we face as a country. 

For as much as I’d like to dedicate this article to making the case for electing one candidate over another, the time has come to take a realistic look at the numbers. 

If You Ain’t First

The American democratic system is particularly unique because it isn’t actually a direct democracy. 

That is to say that, hypothetically, a candidate can lose the popular vote, but still end up winning the election. 

The only number that really matters is 270, which is the number of electoral votes a presidential candidate must receive before he (or she) can be elected president. 

In 2000, George W. Bush actually lost the popular vote to Al Gore by over 540,000 votes, but because of the way the electoral college is set up, he ended up winning the presidency with 271 electoral votes to Gore’s 266.

The Electoral College

I’m sure that most of you have at least a vague understanding of how the electoral college works, but basically, each state is granted a certain number of electoral votes, and whichever candidate ends up winning the state is entitled to the electoral votes that represent said state. 

The number of electoral votes that each state is assigned is determined by the number of Congressmen or Congresswomen that represent each state. 

With that being said, obviously some states are granted more electoral votes than others, which means that presidential candidates often dedicate a significant amount of campaigning time to just a few states. 

For example, Texas has 38 people who represent the state in Congress, thus they are assigned 38 electoral college votes for the general election. 

Utah, on the other hand, only has 6 members of Congress that represent their state, so they are only granted 6 electoral college votes. 

An Uphill Battle

When we look at previous elections, we can generally determine which way at least 32 states will go. 

Since 1992, California, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin have voted Democrat.

Those states combine for a total of 242 electoral college votes, which is just 28 short of the aforementioned 270 mark required for the presidency.

In that same time period, Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Idaho, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming have voted Republican. 

Those states combine for a total of just 102 electoral college votes.

This huge discrepancy gives the Democrats a blatant advantage in the upcoming election, but Trump has actually managed to turn a few of those hard blue states into ‘toss-up’ states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Maine, which represent 38 electoral college votes. 

A Breakdown of Swing States

So-called ‘swing states’ are those which switch back and forth between voting for the Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate nearly every four years. 

The most notable swing-states include Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia, which represent 75 electoral votes. 

When Obama won the general election in both 2008 and 2012, he won Florida, Ohio and North Carolina.

When Bush won in both 2000 and 2004, he won Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia. 

The 2000 Recount and 2016 Prediction

Bush’s 2000 victory over Al Gore was particularly controversial because the swing-state of Florida was left up in the air for over a month after all ballots were cast.

George lobbied hard for a recount in the state, and his brother Jeb was actually the governor of Florida at the time. 

After weeks of controversy, the decision went to the Supreme Court, and they finally decided to do a recount.

Upon the recount, Bush ended up winning Florida by just 537 total votes, but it ended up giving him the additional 25 electoral votes that won him the presidency.

As you can clearly see, the presidency often comes down to just a few states, and, as was the case in the 2000 election, sometimes it comes down to just one.

My prediction for the 2016 presidential election: Trump wins the popular vote by a margin of at least 4 percent, and the electoral college, 270-268.