Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Smaller, Swing States

The goal of US Presidential candidates, in the November election, is not just to win the overall majority of popular votes nationwide - he (or she) also wants to win the majority in each State.

Because in most States it is the candidate who wins a majority in the State, whose party gets to put forward that State's allocated quota of electors into the Electoral College - then it's the Electoral College which votes directly for the President in December. (There are only two States which have a slightly different and more detailed arrangement to this.)

The November election doesn't directly elect the President. The role of the November public-election is really just to determine the mix of voters from the States which will make up the Electoral College - then the Electoral College votes directly for the President in December.

Each State can only put forward into the Electoral College the number of electors allocated to their State. There are 538 nationwide - and to become President a candidate has to win an absolute majority of 270, when they vote in December. Therefore each Presidential candidate wants to win the rights for his party in as many States as possible, to put forward electors pledged to vote for him into the Electoral College.

So, winning in a State can end-up more significant in the end - it can give the candidate more leverage - than winning an overall majority nationwide.

This motivates Presidential candidates to campaign in all of the States, including swing States and smaller States.

A goal of the framers of this system was to prevent any individual, group, State and government itself from getting too much power to the detriment of others. It was designed to safeguard democracy against destroying itself.  

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