New Study Reaffirms Democratic Advantage in Electoral College

Posted by Claire Daviss on March 16, 2015
The Washington Post provided analysis this week on a recently released edition of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report. The report, prepared by nonpartisan political analyst Nathan Gonzales, demonstrates that the Democrats will have a clear electoral advantage in the 2016 presidential election.

Gonzales categorized states traditionally. He separated them into groups based on their tendencies to lean Democratic or Republican, and the intensity of their preference for either party. There are the safe Democratic and Republican states, the lean states, and the "toss-up" swing states.

With these groupings, the safe Democratic states collectively have 217 electoral votes. That's only 53 votes shy of the 270 electoral votes a candidate needs to win the election. On the flip side, safe Republican states only have 191 electoral votes.

The Washington Post notes that the Democratic advantage is even more extreme when you consider the states that lean Democratic. Consider, for example, Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), which has given its electoral votes to a Democrat in the past six presidential elections. Iowa (6 electoral votes) and Nevada (6 electoral votes) are also Democratic lean states. Include these three states in the count, and the Democratic candidate would have 249 electoral votes in total.

The Washington Post points out that this analysis is coming in early, but also applauds it. The analysis is consistent with a developing trend: "increasing Democratic dominance in the Electoral College."

The problem with the current Electoral College system is not that Democrats have a current advantage. Their current advantage is small, and Republicans could take the White House with slightly more than a popular vote majority. Additionally, Republicans have also held such an advantage in the past, as FairVote has documented.

The problem is that the current Electoral College allows for any party to have an advantage, regardless of the nationwide preference for that party. Given the statewide winner-take-all rules, a candidate can win a nationwide election without having the greatest number of votes. This opens the door for systemic partisan bias and for a small handful of swing states to have unfair influence.

If the United States used a national popular vote to elect the president, no candidate would have an unfair advantage. Every vote in every state (and for every party's candidate) would matter equally.

To learn more about the national popular vote, visit FairVote's website.
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