The Electoral Map hides the close race
A close race deepens the challenge for the nation to heal after the presidential election. The recent Electoral College map indicates the race was mostly rural states against urban states. It would seem that the race was decidedly in Biden’s favor. After all, he won by about six million votes (the votes are still being tallied as of this writing). That’s a large margin and can give Democrats reason to celebrate beyond simply winning the contest.
The Electoral College map shows 25 states plus Washington, D.C. colored blue (Biden wins) and the remaining 25 states colored red (Trump wins). The map indicates ours is a nation distinctly divided with the rural heartland pitted against the more populous regions.
This map doesn’t reveal all it should. There are subtle considerations to keep in mind. Maine and Nebraska used congressional district voting and split off some electoral votes to better represent how they voted. Maine is expected to cast one electoral vote (out of four) for Trump while Nebraska is expected to cast one electoral vote (out of five) for Biden.
By the way, if you’re interested in following the vote count, Reuters is providing the recent presidential election up-to-date data. There are other agencies as well that provide current in-depth results for those who are curious of such things. It’s fascinating to explore the returns.
The two-colored map, even if it can reflect the Maine and Nebraska departure, still doesn’t tell the election story very well. You cannot tell if any of the elections were close in any of the states, though you know many were because of the breaking news stories.
Election numbers don’t lie, but they can confuse
The Electoral College map indicates that the nation’s citizens are either aligned with one or the other candidate on a state-by-state basis. Plus, given the associated electoral vote differences, the story is that the voting is divided by almost 14% of the electoral votes (306:232).
However, Biden is winning by less than 4% of the nation’s popular voting. That’s a close race! Remember, the six million vote margin Biden has is part of a pool of over 156 million votes being cast. Here’s some good news: that means around 19 million more votes were cast this year than in 2016. It’s a new record!
The race didn’t lack for contenders. Every state had more than just the two top vote winners (Biden and Trump). Colorado and Vermont listed 21 candidates each. Vermont even welcomed more write-ins. Still, there was a bit of voting purity in that less than 2% of the voters cast ballots for someone other than Biden or Trump, in spite of all those many “also rans.” Because of that, more votes than usual actually gained representation in the Electoral College.
Equal Voice Voting would give us a more honest result
Here’s how the Electoral College results would be depicted if Equal Voice Voting (EVV) had been used. EVV hews close to the popular voting results on a state-by-state basis because it removes the Winner-Takes-All (WTA) limitation from the Electoral College results.
Vermont and Washington, D.C. would be pure blue meaning they would have cast all electoral votes for Biden. North Dakota and Wyoming would have done just the opposite, shown in red, and voted for only Trump. The rest of the nation would be a blend of 25 shades of purple to indicate how close the race really was.
You have already watched the close election play out in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Those weren’t the only states that had close elections.
North Dakota, for example, would have dropped out of its red state purity if 3,000 voters had voted for Biden instead of Trump, splitting its three votes one to two. Similarly, if 5,000 Biden voters had voted instead for Trump in Vermont, that state would have slipped from pure blue to a shade of purple.
Four more states would have evenly split their electoral votes, had EVV been used: Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Twelve more states would have experienced only a one electoral vote difference between the two main candidates, revealing how close those races were.
The disenfranchised voters should have mattered
This year, less than 44% of the votes cast were disregarded because of WTA. Still, the higher voter turnout meant that over 68 million voters were disenfranchised, breaking the old record of 63 million realized in the 2016 election.
Focus on that 68 million for a moment. As the news touts the high voter turnout and how Biden won more votes than anyone has ever won with almost 80 million votes, put it in perspective. Trump won about 73 million votes. The 68 million disenfranchised voters become especially significant when they almost equal the votes cast for Trump, who lost the race this year. Remember, that 68 million votes cast gained no Electoral College representation for any candidate!
The 2020 presidential election was a close race. Had either of the campaigns been run differently and if EVV had been in play, the election story could easily have been different. Most importantly, the story, if depicted by a different Electoral College map, would have better reflected how the nation voted. It would have shown a truth the nation deserves to see. It would have shown how blended our voting really is, on a state-by-state basis.
By the way, in case you’re curious, had EVV been used across the country, Biden would have captured 272 electoral votes to Trump’s 266 – a very close election!
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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team