Saturday, March 08, 2008

How To Predict The Next President

Photo Courtesy JM3

2008 Presidential Election Interactive Map and History of the Electoral College

It seems every election season, Tim Russert drags out a whiteboard and starts speculating on the electoral college count for presidential candidates. If you want to be like Timmy, you might want to check this site I stumbled across today. The site keeps track of the electoral college count based on recent polls, showing where each state stands and where in the electoral college count each candidate stands.

A candidate for president must garner 270 electoral college votes to win the presidential campaign. As election day nears, the site will present the possible outcomes and how each candidate can reach the magic 270. It even allows you to be your own electoral college analyst, changing the count by clicking on states in an interactive map.

So why is 270 the magic number? It's the math of elections. There are 538 Presidential Electors who represent the voting of their particular states. The number of electors is based on population, and the number of electors is equal to the number of congressional representatives each state has in Congress. The smallest state, therefore, has three electors, 1 for each Senator and one representative. The biggest states are California (55), Texas (34), New York (31), Florida (27), and Illinois (21).

Whenever the vote is close, as in 2000 and 2004, the subject of "faithless electors" comes up. This is the concept that an elector, who is pledged to vote for one candidate, changes their vote. It has happened, but in reality, many states have legal recourse against such actions, and penalties for doing so. Electors essentially pledge that they will vote as the electorate has, and in most cases are bound to do so.

Given that this election may be one of the most closely watched and hotly contested in recent history, bookmark to keep track of how things are going.


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