Electoral College strengthens Wyoming, weakens California

College Math: Wyoming voters come out on top in Electoral College

Because of the Electoral College, voters in Wyoming have more sway on who gets elected president than in any other state. By one measure, their votes are worth three times as much as those from voters in other states.

Storified by Digital First Media · Wed, Sep 19 2012 13:45:51

What’s the most powerful state in the union? When it comes to the presidential election, it may be Wyoming.
⨀Ryan Teague Beckwith
Here’s how it works. Under the Constitution, the president is elected not by the country as a whole, but by the states. Each state gets a certain number of electors which are awarded to the candidate who wins that state’s election. (Generally speaking, it’s winner-take-all, though Maine and Nebraska can split their electors.)

Each state’s power in the Electoral College is based on its congressional delegation.

C-SPAN’s Electoral College mapryanbeckwith
But here’s the tricky part. The number of electors is chosen by the number of members each state has in Congress. Since each state has two senators and at least one representative, the smallest states have at least three electors: Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware and Montana, plus Washington, D.C., which gets the equivalent number as the smallest state. This gives small states a big boost from the start. 
Ryan Teague Beckwith – Google+Ryan Teague Beckwith

The eight smallest states (including D.C.) have about the same as the population as Missouri, but almost two and a half times as much power in the Electoral College.

Here, you can check our math:
Seven smallest states plus DC equal Missouri in population, but have 2.4 times the electors.ryanbeckwith
Here’s another way to look at it. The 50 states plus D.C. had a combined population of 308.7 million in the 2010 Census. Divide that by 538 electors in the Electoral College, and the average is 573,876 people per elector, about the same ratio as in Louisiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Maryland or Arizona. Now look at how that compares the number of people per elector in the smallest states and D.C.:
Your vote for president is worth three times as much in Wyoming as in Wisconsin.ryanbeckwith
⨀Ryan Teague Beckwith
The biggest states lose out under this system since they don’t have as much power relative to their population.
Ryan Teague Beckwith – Google+Ryan Teague Beckwith
Again, you can check our math:
- via @ryanbeckwithryanbeckwith
Those votes add up. Out of the 56 presidential elections from 1789 to 2008, the president was elected despite losing the national popular vote four times: John Q. Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888 and George W. Bush in 2000. (Neither Adams nor challenger Andrew Jackson won a majority of the Electoral College and the election was decided by the House of Representatives. The other presidents won the Electoral College outright.)
Ryan Teague Beckwith – Google+Ryan Teague Beckwith
Because it is part of the Constitution, it would be hard to get rid of the Electoral College. First, both chambers of Congress would have to pass a constitutional amendment changing to a national popular vote for president or some other system. Then three-fourths of the states would have to ratify the amendment. But most states have more voting power because of the Electoral College.

Voters in 32 states and D.C. have more voting power for president because of the Electoral College, while 18 states have less.

Here, you can check our math:
How much votes are worth in each state due to the Electoral College.ryanbeckwith
A nonpartisan group called the National Popular Vote thinks it has found another way. Instead of amending the Electoral College, it is trying to work around it by convincing state legislatures to award their electors to the winner of the popular vote. The multi-state agreement would only take effect when states representing a majority of the Electoral College have signed on. So far, nine states (including the District of Columbia) have passed a law. They represent about half the electors needed. But while the effort has some Republican supporters, it has only succeeded so far in Democratic-leaning states: Vermont, Maryland, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California and Hawaii plus D.C.
Many Republicans, meantime, vehemently disagree with any plan to end the Electoral College. The 2012 Republican platform explicitly supports the Electoral College and says any effort “to impose ‘national popular vote’ would be a mortal threat to our federal system and a guarantee of corruption as every ballot box in every state would become a chance to steal the presidency.” 

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