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Current time:0:00Total duration:11:10

Video transcript

in the u.s. we don't directly vote for our president or vice president instead we use something called the electoral college the electoral college so when you show up to vote on Election Day in an election day will happen in November of an election year and it could happen as early as November 2nd and it could happen as late as November 8th and it's going to be the Tuesday after the first Monday in the month so it'll be November 2nd if the first Monday but if the first Monday is November 1st and it'll be November 8th if the first Monday is November 7th and so you go on the election day and you will see a ballot that'll have the presidential candidates it'll have their parties there it'll have the vice presidential candidates and you'll vote for one of them but in actuality when you were voting for when you are voting for candidate candidate a and let's say candidate a is a Democrat you're not actually voting for candidate a you're actually voting for a for a slate of electors who promise to vote for that candidate so you elect tours for for that candidate and it isn't in most states proportional based on what proportion of people vote for one candidate or another it's in most of the states except for Maine and Nebraska it is a winner-take-all system so what do I mean by that so right here you have the breakdown in the United States by state of how many electors each state gets and the number of electors is essentially the number of congressmen that that state has for example California has two senators every state has two senators California has two senators and 53 congressmen and those of you who aren't familiar with it every state gets two senators and the congressman or the the House of Representatives is dictated by population California is a huge state two senators 53 representatives you have Texas two senators and it has 32 representatives you go to Louisiana you have two senators and you have seven representatives so the electors per state is based on the total number of congressmen so the number of senators plus the number of Representatives that's what gives us 55 in California nine Louisiana 34 in Texas but what's interesting here is it's a winner-take-all system in every state except for Nebraska and Maine in every other state if I get 51% of the vote in Texas I get all 34 electoral votes in the electoral college if I get 51 or even if I get 50.1% just a slight majority of the votes in California I will get all of the votes for California in the electoral college and in general or in actuality the president whoever is whoever gets the majority of the electoral votes in the United States and right now that threshold is or that magic number you could think of it that way is 270 electoral electoral college votes electoral college votes if no candidate is able to hit this threshold of 270 electoral college votes then it will go to the US Congress and in the US Congress it's interesting because it isn't one congressman one vote or actually I should say the US House of Representatives it'll go to the US House of Representatives and it won't be one representative one vote what will happen is the representatives in each state will vote together and each state will get only one votes on a tiebreaker the big states really really lose out because in the tiebreaker Texas will get only one vote California will get one vote and Alaska will get one vote and Rhode Island will get one vote so row at the Rhode Island will have just as much say in a tiebreaker as California will over who will be President and they'll just keep voting until someone gets a simple majority of the votes by state now there's one other twist here is that the District of Columbia Washington DC right over here in Congress gets no representatives they have no senators and they have no representatives but they do get three electoral votes when it comes to deciding who is going to be President now you might already be getting a sense you have a sense here that maybe this winner-take-all system might lead to some distortions and the biggest distortion of all is you can imagine a candidate wins who wins the popular vote who wins the popular vote and loses and loses the election or loses in the electoral college and you might think it well gee how does you know when that happen and the way to think about it is a mad at someone let's say someone gets with the states that they win they get huge majorities so let's say there's a conservative can they get and and he or she gets huge majorities in the states they win 80% in Texas they get 80% in Mississippi they get 80% in Oklahoma they get huge majorities in the states that they win and the states that they lose they barely lose and they barely lose those really big states so let's say in Florida you that Congress or that that candidate I should say gets 49% of the vote so they had a lot of votes in Florida but not enough to win it the other person let's say gets 51% all 27 go to the other candidate let's say the same thing happens in let's say the same thing happens in California that candidate got 49% of the vote the opponent let's say gets 51% of the vote all 55 go to California get no credit for that 49% you get no credit for that 49% in Florida so in this situation this candidate might actually end up with the majority barely losing the states they lose and trouncing the other candidate in the states that they win but despite that actually getting fewer electoral college votes now there's a few clarifications I want to make especially ones that that have confused me in the past one of them is because you have the same number of electoral college votes as you have US representatives plus senators there's kind of this feeling that maybe each each district sends its own elector to the state capitol decide who president it is and it doesn't quite work that way so this right here is the panel of electors for Louisiana in 2008 and you can see right over here each of the parties each of the parties have their own slate of electors and these are used either decided by the party themselves or they're decided by the the candidates teams and even though you know you have you have someone here for each district and then you have these at-large candidates it's not like let's take a situation and this actually happen to lose where John McCain got a majority of the state so John McCain and Sarah Palin got a majority of the state it's not the case that let's say let's say in the second District which which represent which is New Orleans let's say that the second District a majority of the people actually voted for Barack Obama it is not the case that Kenneth Garrett in 2008 would have been the chosen elector it is a actually even though they divide things by district and they have these at-large candidates it is actually a statewide election so they don't look at who won each of the districts they just say look John McCain and Sarah Palin won the entire state so all of these electors all of these electors are the ones that are going to go to the state capitol in December and decide who they want to pledge their vote for so even if even if Obama won just the second congressional district that's not how its thought about in the electoral college it's just a statewide election McCain got the majority of the state all of the electors will be chosen from McCain slate or from the Republican Party slate and then they're gonna go to the state capitol in the case of Louisiana it would be Baton Rouge and they will decide who they want to pledge their votes to and all of the electors in all of the states go to their designated location usually the state capitol on the same day and usually that is some day in December and they pick the present although by that point everyone knows who the president is because the actual election was in early November and people know which way the votes went in which way the actual electoral college votes went now I did mention that there are two states that don't do this winner-take-all Nebraska and Maine and in Nebraska and Maine when you go vote it really is by congressional district Nebraska has three congressional districts so in those three congressional districts if one of them goes to the Democrat and two goes to the Republican then they'll have one electoral vote for the the Democrat and two for the Republican and then they have two at-large votes that are decided the same way in kind of the winner-take-all basis if you get 51% of the vote on a statewide basis you get the two at-large votes same thing for Maine and that Maine has two congressional districts so two of the congressional districts could go either way and then the at-large are based on a state wide now you could imagine the other kind of unfair thing here other than the popular vote versus the you know the electoral college vote is it you could imagine it makes some some states better represented than others so if you just divide if you just divided population by the number of electors you see the larger states each elector is lot of representing many many more people this is California right here each elector is representing over 600,000 people and in the smaller states this is Wyoming right here each elector is representing under two hundred thousand per feet under two hundred thousand people so in Wyoming people are getting kind of three times the representation as they would in California on a per capita vote but what makes it even a little bit more skewed because it's winner-take-all and the candidates aren't silly and they want to make sure that they spend their money and their visits and their time in the most leverageable way it actually creates this weird scenario where candidates will often ignore huge parts of the population and they ignore them because those huge parts of a population aren't likely to swing one way or the other so for example California is very reliably Democratic and Texas is very reliably Republican so this right here this is a fascinating graph at least in my mind it shows where George Bush George W Bush and John Kerry spent the last five weeks of their love of the 2004 election let me close that right there of the 2004 election this top graph shows where they actually spent their time so each of these little hands here is a visit in those final five weeks and each of these dollar signs is a million dollar spent on marketing and advertising in on ads and whatever else in those states and you can see California and Texas the two biggest states they didn't spend enough money to threshold to get a dollar sign written there so they didn't even spend a million dollars on these huge states they only they only had a few visits to California and Texas Texas had no visits in the final five weeks so what happens is is that Canada spend a disproportionate amount of attention and money in the states that are more likely to swing one way or another so the people in Florida or in Ohio so this is Ohio in Florida got a ton of more attention at least especially on a per person basis than the people in Texas did
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