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Popular Vote Versus Electoral Vote

In a U.S. Presidential election, it is possible for one candidate to win the popular vote and another candidate to win the electoral vote. How? The diagram shows a simple model in which this can occur. The model consists of three states. As in our system, each state gets two electoral votes corresponding to its two Senators; these are depicted by squares. The populations of the states are three, one, and one, and each person is represented by one electoral vote, depicted by circles (in our system, the representation of a state is proportional to its population).


The purple or green shading indicates how the people in each state voted. All of a state's electoral votes go to the popular vote majority winner in that state. (This is true in the U.S. too, except in a couple of exceptional states that split their electoral voting.) Thus, Purple wins the popular vote 3-2 but Green wins the electoral vote 6-5.

As we can see in our model, the anomaly where one candidate wins the popular vote and another candidate wins the electoral vote is made possible by our bicameral legislative system, particularly, by the fact that each state gets an extra number of electoral votes unrelated to its population.