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Forgive my ignorance, but can someone please explain this to me?

Posted by   + Show Post

I feel stupid asking this, but I know you ladies will know...

I have a very basic understanding of how the electoral college works. Whichever candidate wins the popular vote in a state, that state's electoral votes go to that candidate. 

But, why do *all* of a state's electoral votes go to one candidate? 

Let's say a state has 10 electoral votes, and the state votes 60% one way and 40% the other, why don't 6 votes go one way and 4 the other? Why do all 10 go to the candidate who had the 60% vote?

I hope that makes sense...and thanks in advance. 

by on Nov. 7, 2012 at 1:54 PM
Replies (11-11):
by on Nov. 7, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Glad I could help.  :)  Thanks for asking.  Too many people don't ask questions anymore!

Quoting sissyboogs:

Oh, ok, I understand that. Thank you. Your answers are so helpful. 

Quoting Mrs.Kubalabuku:

Yes.  They project based on how the remaining precincts vote in the past.  There are precincts and states that have "belonged" to one party since they ever started voting.  If the majority of the remaining precincts always go Democrat, the media believes it is safe to assume they will again.  And, they are usually right in that regard.  California has historically been a very democratic state, so it was projected as a given in favor of Obama, b/c historically it has been.

Quoting sissyboogs:

Quoting Mrs.Kubalabuku:

The way you think it should work is how it was intended to work at it's conception.

But, thanks to many factors, it doesn't go that way.

Also, there is NO FEDERAL LAW requiring the electoral college to cast their votes according to the popular vote.  A state could have 100% of the voters vote for Candidate A, but the College could vote Candidate B, and NOTHING could be done about it. (In theory.  I'm sure something would be done after the fact, but really shouldn't we address this before it becomes a problem?)  (Some states have laws regulating, but even those laws are open to interpretation.)

As for the media, they like to project their favorite candidate as winning VERY EARLY in the polls, and the electoral college will vote according to the projections, but the precinct by precinct outcome could be very different than the projections.  In states where it is close, this could mean the person with 49% wins the state, instead of the candidate with the majority of 51%.  Thank you, instant gratification mindset!  They don't wait for the last vote to be counted.

Our elections are nothing but smoke and mirrors, really.  I am a Republican-leaning Independent Voter.  But back when Bush Jr. won, I felt that since the popular vote was with Gore, he should have won.  The Electoral College is a dated institution, from back in teh day when the average American couldn't read and wasn't up to speed on current events.  From back before it was feasible to count every single vote in a time effective manner.  But with modern technology, the average American CAN read up on events, and they CAN count the votes very quickly.  

I personally know many more people who would go vote if the Electoral College was done away with.  But they know their vote literally does NOT count.  If they want to vote R and live in a D precinct or vice versa, there is literally no point.  I have also read compelling studies that theoretically prove (look up the term before you take issue with it) a third party will NEVER win office with the Electoral College in place.  And as someone who is fed up with the bi-partisan bickering, I'd LOVE to see some alternate parties taking more precedence!

Thank you! That was very informative. So, is that why Obama was projected to win (and did win) WI even though the vote there was, if I remember correctly, 49% Obama to 50 or 51% Romney at the time of projection? And CA was projected like a minute after their polls closed? 

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