Close Elections For The Many and The Few

How California Flipped The Nation

Close elections get a lot of attention. The 2016 election did not disappoint in that regard. Clinton captured more of the nation’s popular vote than did Trump by almost three million votes. It was a very close election.

2016 election map

But there’s more to the story.

If the California voting were removed from the mix, the vote advantage would have flipped. Trump would then have captured around 1.5 million votes more than Hillary!

The concern is a matter of voting representation. Trump captured 304 electoral votes to Hillary’s 227 (seven votes were cast by delegates for other names). If California had not counted, Trump would have captured 304 electoral votes to Hillary’s 172 votes.

Following the breadcrumbs on that confusing and meandering trail, we see that the popular vote had little relation to the electoral vote outcome. Close elections of the popular vote kind should be similar to the Electoral College result – right?

That’s not what happens, is the short answer. But people pointed fingers at the Electoral College and declared, “It must go!” Again, there’s more to the story. The real reason the relationship between popular votes and electoral votes are often out of sync is due to the winner-takes-all approach.

The Blue Wall Came Tumbling Down

Three states were thought of as the blue wall during the 2016 election. The thinking was that Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin normally vote for the Democrat candidate (blue states).

2016 blue wall

They didn’t conform to that assumption and the blue wall came down.

2016 blue wall destroyed

Here’s another close election story: Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes. He won Pennsylvania by 44,292 votes. And he carried Wisconsin by 22,748 votes. That’s a total vote margin for all three states of 77,744 votes!

Since the winner-takes-all approach is in play in these states, Trump won all the electoral votes those states had to give: Michigan = 16, Pennsylvania = 20, and Wisconsin = 10. Trump captured 46 electoral votes by fewer than 78,000 votes!

If Hillary had carried those three states, as expected, she would have had an additional 46 electoral votes. The election result would have been: Trump =258 and Hillary = 273. She would have won the election!

This is worth repeating: If Hillary had captured those 77,744 votes; she would now be our president (like it or not).

But wait, there’s more! Hillary didn’t need all of those votes to win. If she had been able to flip half of those voters to vote for her instead of Trump, the difference would be even less. If Hillary had flipped 5,353 voters in Michigan, 22,147 voters in Pennsylvania, and 11,374 voters in Wisconsin, she would have won those races and the presidency!

In other words, the close election we witnessed could have been decided by flipping 38,874 votes from Trump to Hillary to give her a lead of six popular votes (combined) in those three states. That’s six popular votes to win 46 electoral votes and the presidency! Now, that’s what I’d call a close election!

Equal Voice Voting Makes Every Vote Count!

There are many points to be made here but the core truth is that the winner-takes-all approach ill-serves our nation. It always means that many voters cast ballots that do not count. Votes cast for any candidate who does not win a given state do not matter.

Equal Voice Voting, if it had been used in those three states (check out state results at, would have made for a different story. It would have synchronized the popular vote result with the Electoral College outcome. Electoral votes would have split as follows:

  • Michigan: Hillary = 8, Trump = 8
  • Pennsylvania: Hillary = 9, Trump = 11
  • Wisconsin: Hillary = 5, Trump = 5

The total for those three states would have been: Hillary = 22, Trump = 24. Instead, we had Hillary = 0, Trump = 46.

The electoral results would have been much closer to how people actually voted. The Electoral College would have proven its worth and the country would have been better served.

If you like good political discussions, share this bit of information with your family and friends. Then let your legislators know that Equal Voice Voting holds the best promise for our presidential election futures – for everyone!

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