Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Data Americana: an Electoral College Infographic

The United States is not a pure democracy, but rather a Representative Republic, for lots of great reasons.  As such one of the mechanisms that facilitate our indirect election of the President of the United States is the Electoral College.

Some people shudder when they hear it and some actively avoid understanding it altogether, considering it an unfathomable beast, -plus there's no shortage of controversy around it (so far the pros outweigh the cons).  But largely what surrounds the Electoral College is confusion.

This graphic takes a crack at illustrating the maybe-surprising variations from state to state of an individual's relative importance to the Electoral College in graphical terms.

Here are some tidbits to prime the pump...

  • When it comes to the 2012 election, Utahans will get the biggest (+15%) per-person jump in election power, thanks to the new 2010 Census population counts.
  • Did you know that in the 2012 election, one person in Wyoming will be worth more than three and a half Californians?
  • California, New York, and Texas will have the least per-person sway in the Electoral College, while Wyoming, Washington DC, and Vermont will have the most.
  • Most states are winner-take-all when it comes to who gets their Electoral College votes, but Maine and Nebraska are more nuanced (which is pretty awesome of them).

  • Read up in Wikipedia for a helpful primer on why the Electoral College exists and a discussion of the pros and cons.
  • Learn about IDV's capabilities for data visualization.
  • Check out a delicious infographic on the also-uneven (necessarily) terrain of congressional representation.
  • Visit an interactive web map of even more data Americana, which you may or may not find interesting. 
Great comment from a reader in LinkedIn: "[The Electoral College is] not all that weird actually. Isn't that the point of the Electoral College? To make sure the big population states don't push the sparser states around? Otherwise our "representation" would pretty much be New York and California. Go Wyoming!

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