In contrast to the elections of state governors and members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, Americans do not cast their votes directly for the president of their choice in a presidential election. Instead, their ballots elect members of the Electoral College, an intermediary body, which will ultimately vote and decide the presidency.

This peculiar process dates back to the embryonic period of our nationhood. While there were several reasons behind the existence of the Electoral College, foremost in the minds of our Founding Fathers was a safeguard mechanism against the possible threat of a foreign-backed dictatorship or the reemergence of a pro-monarchist movement.

A naïve and unsophisticated populace spread over the vast tracts of the original thirteen colonies was presumed to be open to easy manipulation by regional or foreign influences, resulting in a movement that could swell out to neighboring areas before anyone in the capital, Philadelphia, would even be aware of. In such an event, the threat of coercion or simply the psychological effects of a perceived dominant figurehead would translate to a flawed presidential election.

Having just declared their independence from the clutches of the all-powerful British monarchy headed by King George III, the Founding Fathers were wary of exposing themselves to such a threat. There is also of course the matter of over 40,000 British soldiers, together with another 30,000 odd German mercenaries, that were present the country; a force significant enough to lay the groundwork for a future monarchist or separatist movement.

One must keep in mind that at the time, circa 1787, the fastest means of communications were horse-powered postal carriages, and newspapers were still considered a luxury item. Coupled with the low literacy rate of the young nation, the Founding Fathers felt that there was a need to create a buffer between the electorate and the act of choosing the leader of the government. The buffer came in the form of the 'electors', whose role was detailed in Article II, Section 1, of the United States Constitution.

Expand for more about the Electoral College




2016 Electoral Vote Calculator


We've combined election results of the past ten presidential elections with an electoral vote calculator to facilitate the review of state trends, calculate probable outcomes and identify the swing states.

There are a total of 538 electoral votes from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The majority, 270 electoral votes (50% plus one) are needed to win the election. Ten states voting for both the Democratic and Republican parties over the past four election cycles (two two-term administrations of opposing parties) have been identified in green as 'swing states'. There are exceptions commonly due to a particular candidate and their association to a related state or region.

Move the electoral votes of any state to either party. and the results are automatically calculated at the bottom of the chart. Hover your mouse over any specific result in the 40-year trend to see the winner in that state and their percentage of the popular vote.
 
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Electoral Votes
   
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  Maine 2 CD  
  Maine S  
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