Why is it that Pennsylvania or Florida are the deciding votes for the presidency? Can someone please explain and how electoral votes work?

2 Answers

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  • 4 weeks ago

    I was just thinking, wouldn't it be amazing if President Trump won California?

    Considering Trump's accomplishments it is possible.

  • Tmess2
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    They aren't necessarily the deciding vote.

    The basic rules is that each state gets a number of electors equal to their total number of representatives in the U.S. House and plus their number of Senators.  Since every state has two Senators and at least one representative (regardless of their actual population), this system weights things in favor of smaller states.  However, while smaller states have more influence in this system, big states (having more electoral votes) are likely to have the most impact.  Florida is the third largest state and Pennsylvania is the fifth largest state.  Combined they have 49 votes.

    In total, there are 538 electoral votes. It takes an absolute majority (270 electoral votes to win).  

    In each state, in addition to the candidates for president and vice-president (who will appear on the ballot), there is a slate of candidates for electors (who usually do not appear on the ballot) associated with the ticket.  Each state has slightly different rules for how the slate is nominated but the simple version is that the party picks that slate (except for independent candidates who pick their own slate).  In forty-eight states (plus D.C.), the ticket that gets the most votes state-wide wins and the associated slate of candidates for elector become the electors for that state.

    In Nebraska, the ticket that gets the most votes state-wide gets wins the state-wide race and its two candidates for the at-large positions become electors.  However, three electors are chosen at the congressional district level; so the ticket that gets the most votes in each congressional district gets one elector.  (If there were two or more competitive third parties, it might be possible to win state-wide without winning any congressional districts.  With only the two major parties being even somewhat competitive, you have to win at least one congressional district to win the state-wide vote.)

    Maine's rules for picking electors is similar to Nebraska with an additional twist.  Maine uses ranked-choice voting.  If no candidate gets a majority of first preferences (either state-wide or in an individual congressional district), the last placed candidate is eliminated and the vote is recalculated using the second preference of those who voted for the eliminated candidate.  This continues until one candidate has a majority of the remaining votes.  In this year's election, this process could determine who wins the Second District's elector.

    Each state has until December 8 to finish the official count (most states do not finish the initial count on election night and fewer than normal may complete the count on election night due to the number of mail-in ballots) and any recount or court challenges to the election.  When the count is completed, the state executive (either governor or secretary of state) issues a certificate of ascertainment (which is filed with Congress and the U.S. archive) naming the people who were chosen as electors.

    On December 14, each state's group of electors meets in their state capitol to formally vote.  Those votes are recorded and sent to Congress and the U.S. archive.

    On January 6, the new Congress will meet.  If there are any disputes regarding the votes, the new Congress meets in separate session to resolve the dispute.  However, if both houses do not vote to uphold a challenge to a state's votes, those votes are counted as cast.  The votes are then added up and whomever gets 270 electoral votes wins.  If nobody gets 270 electoral votes, the new House (voting by state with 26 states needed to win) picks the president and the new Senate (with 51 votes needed to win) picks the vice-president.  

    Nobody knows at this point which state will actually be the tipping point state.  The tipping point state is that state which if you ranked states from most Democratic to most Republican by percentage gap (or vice versa) is the state that gave the 270th electoral vote to the winner.  There are about ten states which, based on current polling, are close enough to each other around the tipping point that they could be the tipping point state.  Because of their sheer size (although several of the others like Michigan, Georgia, Ohio, and North Carolina are also large), there is a decent chance that Florida or Pennsylvania will end up in that position because one large state is equal to two or three smaller states.  (In other words, Florida is about equal to Georgia plus North Carolina so a candidate would need to win both Georgia and North Carolina to offset losing Florida.  Likewise Pennsylvania is about equal to Iowa plus Wisconsin.)  The folks at 538 try to put a number on this and calculate -- again based on current polls and the margin of error -- that there is a one in three chance that Pennsylvania will be the tipping point and a one in eight chance that Florida will be the tipping point.  While this makes these two states the most likely candidates to be the tipping point, it also means that it is more likely that some other state will occupy that position.  (It's sort of like projecting a favorite to win the Super Bowl at the start of the playoffs.  One team may be most likely to win, but it is more likely that they will not win the Super Bowl.)

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