US elections: How the American president is elected, not by the people

A map of the projected outcome in the Electoral College by an opinion poll. (270TOWIN)

The system used to determine who becomes president of the United States is based on the Electoral College, not the popular vote.

In recent years, two presidents have lost the popular vote but garnered enough votes in the Electoral College to earn a seat at the White House.

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Former President George. W. Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore in 2000, while President Donald Trump also lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

What is the Electoral College?

It is made up of a group of delegates from each state, and they are the ones who vote in the Electoral College on behalf of each state. In total, there are 538 votes up for grabs.

There is also no split between Electoral College votes within states.

For example, if Trump gets 51 percent of Texas and Democratic nominee Joe Biden gets the remaining 49 percent, the former takes all 38 seats in the Electoral College.

Race to 270

Whichever candidate racks up 270 or more Electoral College votes is declared the winner. There have been a few cases where the states’ representatives did not follow through on voting and decided to vote against the popular vote in their state.

The Electoral College is why there has been such great focus by the Trump and Biden campaigns on what are referred to as “swing states.”

Florida is an example of a must-win for both parties. With 29 Electoral College votes, it could very well swing the vote one way or another.

Alongside Florida is Pennsylvania with 20 Electoral College votes, Ohio with 18, Georgia and Michigan with 18 Electoral College votes each and North Carolina with 15. Arizona, Minnesota and Nevada are also important for Trump and Biden, with 11, 10 and 6 Electoral College votes, respectively.

Traditional locks for Democrats are California and New York, which make up 84 Electoral College votes in total.

Meanwhile, Texas is usually a guaranteed win for Republicans with 38 Electoral College votes, but it could be up for grabs this year as other states.

Opinion polls have heavily favored Biden to win, but Trump and his supporters will be hoping for a repeat scenario of 2016.

On Tuesday, Trump reiterated his belief that he has “a solid chance of winning.”

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Last Update: Tuesday, 03 November 2020 KSA 16:56 - GMT 13:56
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