It’s not a popularity contest


“A body of electors chosen by the voters in each state to elect the president and vice president of the United States.”

This is the definition of the Electoral College on If you’re at all familiar with the voting system we have in the United States, you know that the Electoral College, not the popular vote, decides who will be our president every four years.

So why does America have an Electoral College?

According to, a website run by the Office of the Federal Register of the United States, “the Electoral College was established by the founding fathers as a compromise between election of the president by a vote in Congress and election of the president by a popular vote of qualified citizens.”

This compromise, most of the time, has these two voting systems sync up. However, there have been four instances where this has not been the case, most recently in the 2000 Presidential Election between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore. Gore won the popular vote by approximately 550,000 votes, but lost in the Electoral College.

To win a presidential election, a candidate needs 270 of the 538 possible Electoral College votes. In 2000, Gore only collected 266, falling four votes short. This caused controversy because it was the first time in over 100 years that a presidential candidate won the popular vote, yet lost the election.

Many pundits, including those at FOX News, MSNBC, and CNN, the three major cable news networks, felt that the same thing might happen in this election. There was a sentiment that Gov. Mitt Romney may win the popular vote, but still lose the election to President Barack Obama.

This scenario was a possibility because of the number of voters in each state relative to the number of Electoral College votes each state is allotted.

Population is a key aspect of how many Electoral College votes a state is awarded, but the voter turnout on Election Day in each individual state is not taken into effect. This means that Republicans could have more people voting, but still not win because their numbers add up in states where the electoral votes aren’t as contested.

For the 2012 Presidential Elections, this did not end up playing out. As of 3 p.m. Nov. 15, Obama had almost 63  million votes compared to Romney’s approximately 59 million.