Math and politics A look at how math affects elections

Math and politics A look at how math affects elections

MATH AND POLITICS A LOOK AT HOW MATH AFFECTS ELECTIONS Jana Behm Math 320 July 7, 2010 OVERVIEW Voting Systems and how they can effect outcomes *Majority Rule *Plurality Voting *Electoral College

MAJORITY RULE *Straight forward *Excellent for choosing between 2 candidates *Most votes wins *No single vote counts more than any other *Potential problem: TIES (usually broken in some pre-arranged way) *Another potential problem: difficult in a multi-party system PLURALITY VOTING *More than 2 alternatives in an election

*Simply count the number of 1st place votes *Possible that no candidate has the majority of the votes cast THE MATH OF MAJORITY AND PLURALITY VOTING *Majority voting: simple majority >Votes cast: 100 with 2 candidates winner needs a simple majority which is (100/2) +1 or 51 votes to win the election. *Plurality voting: simple math >Votes cast: 100 with 3 candidates winner simply needs the most votes, not necessarily a majority of the votes cast.

THE MATH OF MAJORITY AND PLURALITY VOTING Example: 1992 US Presidential Election Total Votes Clinton Bush Perot 104,425,014 44,909,326 39,103,882 43.01% 37.45% 18.91% 19,741,657 Therefore Clinton was the winner, but did not receive

the majority of the votes cast Source: http://iun.edu/~mathiho/mathpol/fall00/chapter11.htm U.S. ELECTORAL COLLEGE *Each state is given an electoral numbers which equals the number of US representatives + the 2 senators that they have *How are the representatives divided? *Is this fair? *2009 estimates US population to be 307,006,550 people

U.S. ELECTORAL COLLEGE CONTINUED State Population % of US pop Electoral votes MT 974989 0.32% 3 0.56% IA 3007856 0.98% 7 1.30% IL 12910409 4.21% 21

3.90% FL 18537659 6.04% 27 5.02% NY 19541453 6.37% 31 5.76% TX 24782302 8.07% 34

6.32% CA 36961664 12.04% 55 10.22% % of electoral votes US Population = 307,006,550 Electoral votes possible: 538 Source for population numbers: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/17000.html WINNING AN ELECTION BUT LOSING THE POPULAR VOTE

2000 Presidential Election Candidate Popular Vote George W. Bush 50,460,110 Albert Gore Jr. 51,003,926 % Electoral Vote 47.87% 271 48.38% 266 % 50.4%

49.4% Neither candidate had a simple majority as there were 6 candidates on the ballot. Plurality voting is not in effect in the United States President Bush won 2 large electoral states, but MANY of the smaller states that added up for the electoral win Mr. Gore won largely populated states, but not enough of them for electoral victory. Source: http://www.uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php? f=0&year=2000 2000 ELECTORAL MAP ELECTORAL MATH

There are 538 electoral votes possible Candidates must get a simple majority 538/2 +1 = 270 votes Therefore, they can have a simple majority of electoral votes without having a majority of votes cast in an election or even the most votes cast. LETS PLAY WITH THE MATH

http:// www.archives.gov/federal-register/elect oral-college/calculator.html http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/ maps/obama_vs_mccain/? map=1 CONCLUSION

Does math effect election outcomes? Can one state change the entire course of an election with as little as 3 electoral votes? How many configurations of states will give you the 270 needed to win? Are the big states mandatory, or do they just make it easier?

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