Winning The Electoral College In 2020, Part 2

Path to 270

The above United States map helps focus one’s attention on the importance of the Electoral College.

The map gives inside information on the Joe Biden campaign strategy for winning the White House in 2020. You won’t likely see it anyplace else. Please keep it top secret. The map was shared with me and several hundred-thousand other insiders. Maybe a million insiders. Because Joe Biden has our email addresses and wants us to send money.

The Upper Midwest

You can see a row of six states in the upper Midwest, from Pennsylvania in the east to Minnesota and Iowa in the west. They’re medium-size states; together they have 80 electoral votes. Donald Trump won five of the six states in 2016. Joe Biden’s campaign has its work cut out, don’t you think? Consider:

  • Pennsylvania, 20 electoral votes
  • Ohio, 18 electoral votes
  • Michigan, 16 electoral votes
  • Wisconsin, 10 electoral votes
  • Minnesota, 10 electoral votes
  • Iowa, 6 electoral votes

The Electoral College totals 538 votes. The winning candidate needs a bare majority, 270 votes.  Joe Biden doesn’t need all six states and their 80 votes to win. But he’s going to have a hard time reaching 270 unless he wins at least four. The most likely four would be Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, totaling 56 electoral votes.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won Minnesota. But she lost Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin by fewer than 2 percent of the votes in each state. If she had won those three states, she would have won with 274 electoral votes.

So now you know the most important states in the Biden campaign strategy, and maybe in the Trump strategy as well.

Pack your suitcase or nag

What can you do? If you desperately want Biden to win, the best thing you can do is pack your suitcase, move to one of the four states, and be a tireless volunteer from now until November. Or you can contribute money to the Biden campaign.

Or you can nag your spouse, children, parents, neighbors, and the people at work. Tell them all to vote for Joe Biden. You can do it right where you live.

Make sure they register to vote. Urge them to apply for a mail-in ballot, or at least to vote early. If you don’t like the word “nag,” you may substitute the word “electioneer.”

There’s not one right way to reach 270 votes

Biden has at least a fighting chance to also win Ohio and Iowa. If he wins all six states, it wouldn’t guarantee victory, but he’d be on his way.

Donald Trump also doesn’t need all six states to be reelected. But he won five of them in 2016, and he needed them. He probably needs to win two of the states, at a minimum, Ohio and Iowa. And he’d seriously like to win a few more.

If you desperately want Trump to win, you know where to volunteer. You know whom to nag. Or electioneer.

Now, there’s two more states in the Upper Midwest. You might overlook them because they’re not highlighted on the map. They are Illinois (20 electoral votes) and Indiana (11 electoral votes). They’re colored grey because political observers understand that Illinois will most likely support the Democratic ticket in November, and Indiana will most likely support the Republican ticket.

Do not take Electoral College votes for granted

It does’t mean Illinois and Indiana are not important, as some critics of the Electoral College suppose. Their electoral votes are absolutely crucial for the Biden and Trump campaigns. The assumptions that Illinois will go Democratic and Indiana will go Republican are as close to a sure thing as any assumptions you can make for 2020. But no one can absolutely predict an election! Beware of assumptions. Voters have surprised the experts before, and they will do it again.

Make no mistake: A candidate who takes any state and its voters for granted is a candidate at risk. Hillary Clinton expected to win in Michigan and Wisconsin in 2016, so she focused her efforts on other states. She virtually ignored Michigan and Wisconsin.

Michigan and Wisconsin paid her back by narrowly voting for Donald Trump! The electoral votes of Michigan (16 votes) and Wisconsin (10 votes), along with Pennsylvania (20 votes) tipped the Electoral College to Trump. Clinton squeaked by with a national popular vote majority, but so what? The Electoral College rules.

And you know what? Clinton very nearly lost Minnesota and its 10 votes.

If you seriously want to understand the Electoral College and the 2020 election, you should read the above paragraphs again. They don’t mean that any of the Midwest states hold the key to the 2020 election. The point is: Some states get extra attention because they’re considered battleground states. But every state is important, any state might surprise you, and every state’s electoral votes count.

Do not imagine that I am disclosing Biden campaign secrets  to the Trump organization. Donald Trump also has a map of the U.S., and he knows all the same information about the Electoral College that Joe Biden knows.

And do not imagine that the Midwest states are the end of the 2020 story. They’re only the beginning. ALL the states highlighted on the map are important. The candidates are going to work like hell for all of them. Because if they lose one or two important states, it’s not the end. They can make it up by winning other states.

And some of the states colored grey might surprise you like a jack-in-the-box on election night.

Eventually, we’ll go through the list of all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., and ponder the possibilities for November 2020. It’s all about arithmetic.

#  #  #  #  #  #

I had planned to wrap up some loose ends from Part 1 at this point. Clarify why it’s useless to worry about changing the Electoral College and the winner-take-all electoral vote system right now. But Part 2 is already too long. So we’ll briefly address those loose ends in Part 3. And then move on quickly to review the 2016 Electoral College results as a preview to what’s ahead in 2020. See you in Part 3.

— John Hayden

Winning The Electoral College In 2020, Part 1

Path to 270

NOTE: Many people believe the president should be elected by the national popular vote, instead of by the Electoral College vote. For an interesting discussion of popular vote vs. Electoral College, see the many comments at the bottom of the post.

To rage against the U.S. Electoral College is worse than a distraction. It is useless, it’s a waste of time.

If you want to know the names of the president and vice president who will be sworn in next January, 2021, if you care who the next president will be, you have to WIN A MAJORITY of the Electoral College in the November 2020 presidential election. It’s as simple as that. And as difficult. Just look at the Electoral College map above.

Raging against the Electoral College is worse than a distraction because you can’t get rid of it, and you can’t change it.

Where does the Electoral College come from?

It comes from the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1.

“Each State shall appoint, in such a Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress . . . The Electors shall meet in their respective States and vote by Ballot for two  Persons . . . And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed . . . to the President of the Senate. . . . The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the president, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed . . .

. . . after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President.”

Straightforward, right?

Each state gets a number of electors equal to its two U.S. Senators plus the number of members the state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. The candidate with the most electoral votes is the next president.

But only if that number is a majority of all the electoral votes. That’s important. Note that the Constitution requires a MAJORITY of the Electoral College. Not a minority.

The above system has been used in every presidential election since the first one in 1788, when a majority chose George Washington without a whole lot of dispute.

The Electoral College is arithmetic, specifically addition! No subtraction, multiplication, long division, geometry or calculus.

So why the consternation about the Electoral College?

Good question. It starts with the fact that the electoral votes of smaller states are proportionately greater than the votes of larger states. That’s because large states and small states all have two U.S. senators as the base point for their number of electors. I will leave it to others with a better understanding of mathematics to consider how significant that proportional difference is in the context of 538 total electoral votes.

A winner-take-all system of awarding the electoral votes makes the proportional difference worse. Much, much worse.

The presidential candidate who wins a state’s popular vote wins ALL that state’s electoral votes. The losing candidate gets NONE of the state’s electoral votes. Even though he or she may have won 45 percent of the state’s popular vote. (The only exceptions are Maine and Nebraska.)

As a result of the winner-take-all system, on top of the proportional advantage of the smaller states, the electoral vote for president does not perfectly reflect the popular vote nationwide. But usually — almost always — one candidate wins both the Electoral College majority and a national popular vote majority or plurality and becomes president.

(NOTE: A candidate must win a MAJORITY in the Electoral College. That’s mandated in the Constitution. Failing an Electoral College majority, the election goes to the House of Representatives. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied with 73 votes each. And the House of Representatives deadlocked 35 times before finally electing Jefferson to be second president of the U.S.

A benefit of the winner-take-all allocation of electoral votes is that it makes failure of one candidate to win an Electoral College majority nearly impossible. Therefore, the winner-take-all system protects against the prospect of an election being decided in the House of Representatives.)

In the national popular vote, the winner might NOT have a majority. When there are three or more candidates, minor candidates slice off little pieces of the popular vote, potentially leaving the winner with less than a majority. When a winner has the most votes but it’s less than a majority, he wins with only a MINORITY. That’s called a PLURALITY.

Bottom line: It is possible for one candidate to win the Electoral College and another candidate to win the national popular vote! Usually it’s not a problem. It’s only happened a few times in the whole history of the U.S.

But it happened in 2016!

Donald Trump won a clear majority (304 to 227) in the Electoral College. Hillary Clinton won a plurality of the national popular vote (48.2% to 46.1%) (65,853,514 to 62,984,828 approximately).

Even though not a majority, Clinton had more popular votes than Trump. And Trump had more electoral votes. Many people think Clinton should therefore be president. But sorry, the winner was Trump, the one with the Electoral College majority. It says so in the Constitution, and the Constitution is the law of the land.

A majority, of course, is 50% plus 1. If you’re a mathematician or a perfectionist, you might calculate: 50% – 48.2% = 1.8%.

And you might ask, where are those 1.8% of the popular votes which denied Clinton a majority. I’m not a mathematician, but I doubt that even a mathematician can answer that question for sure.

It might be reasonable to suggest: Maybe that 1.8% of the popular vote is reflected in the Electoral College total?

Trump is a minority president, and Clinton would also be a minority president. Is it possible to speculate that the Electoral College might reflect the will of the whole nation as accurately as the popular vote?

My head spins! Are these mathematical questions, or metaphysical questions?

And that, my friends, is why many people wonder about the Electoral College and the national popular vote.

In the next post, Part 2, we’ll discuss how the winner-take-all system came to be.

And more important, why it’s a waste of time worrying about the Electoral College, because we’re not going to change it. At least not before the November election. Which is only five months away.

Rather than raging against the Electoral College, your time would be better spent trying to WIN the Electoral College majority for the candidate of your choice. That is the point of this series of posts.

See you in Part 2.

— John Hayden

Revolt Of Working Class Voters

In my local community, I’ve heard many explanations, often seasoned with a teaspoon of blame, on how and why Donald Trump prevailed in this week’s presidential election.

White people elected Trump!

Or, men elected Trump!

Or, small-town and rural America defeated the big cities.

Or even, less-educated voters — those without a college degree — elected Trump.

In my opinion, it is more accurate to say that the neglected, aggrieved working class revolted against the Democratic Party and against the perceived elites. Continue reading

Are we there yet?

The exceedingly strange election season of 2016 has left me uncharacteristically speechless.  Not to worry, I haven’t disappeared. Simply keeping a low profile on the blogosphere until the unpleasantness is over.

Early voting starts today in Maryland, and I plan to vote for Hillary Clinton tomorrow.

Maybe 2016 will fade quickly like a bad dream.  Maybe the storm will pass and American politics will regain some sanity and civility.  We can only hope.

— John Hayden

Tim Kaine Today Validated Hillary Clinton’s Good Judgment And Assured A Clinton Victory In November

2018 Note: this post, which seemed so right at the time, only proves that I am often wrong.

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia has just removed all doubt about the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

I watched and listened to Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican convention Thursday night. Continue reading

The Establishment, Including Cable TV, Wants To Prevent Bernie Sanders From Winning

Bernie Sanders said at the outset of the campaign that the Big-Money Establishment (my words) would resist his “political revolution” with all its power.

And now that Bernie has gained “the big M” — Momentum — with primary and caucus wins in Western states to match Hillary Clinton’s wins in the South, the pitched battle may be at hand. Continue reading

Bernie Sanders Is Winning The Contest For The Democratic Nomination

News flash: Bernie Sanders is winning!

Why does the mainstream media report over and over that Hillary Clinton is almost certain to be the Democratic nominee?

The presumption of a Hillary Clinton nomination is based on a dwindling lead of fewer than 300 pledged delegates, with 18 states yet to vote.

Hillary’s lead is based entirely on Democratic primary victories in the former Confederate states of the Deep South, from South Carolina to Texas. Is the Democratic nominee going to win any of the Deep South states in November? Highly unlikely. We are conceding the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton based a handful of Southern states? Continue reading