I wholeheartedly believe in the principle of federalism: putting government as close as possible to the people it represents in order to be as responsive to their needs as possible. So I also like the idea of letting states elect a president rather than individual citizens.

But why, then, do so many states choose to give all of their votes to someone who might only represent the choice of 51% of that state’s voters?

Maybe states like to see their majority winner swing the national vote as much as possible.

But that seems like a stupid goal to me, because if the voters were represented proportionally by their state’s electoral votes, that state’s influence would not be diminished. Instead, it would be allocated appropriately.

So should the electoral votes of individual states be allocated in proportion to that state’s popular vote? Maybe. maybe not. But I thought it would make an interesting thought experiment, at the very least. So I took the popular vote from each state, allocated each of their electoral votes in proportion (with a few exceptions), and decided I might be onto something.

Before I tell you the result, let me mention the exceptions I used in calculating electoral votes (EVs) this way.

  • In the event that rounding causes the allocation of EVs (by percentage of the popular vote) to leave one EV unallocated, my algorithm assigns that extra EV to the top vote-getter. (I figure they deserve it because they did get more than any other candidate.)
  • In the event that rounding causes one too many EVs to be allocated to a state, my algorithm deducts one EV from the second-place finisher. (Like before, I figure the winner deserves to have at least one more EV than second place.)

Applying this methodology to the 2016 election, the results I got were not objectionable to me at all.

No candidate got 270 EVs. Trump got 263 and Clinton got 264. So the House would have decided the presidency!

And don’t forget, that┬ámeans another good thing resulted: Johnson got 9 and Stein got 1. So this way would also treat third parties slightly better.

Of course, this assumes that each state is using a traditional, choose-one-candidate ballot — and there are some good alternatives to that, but it should remain the states’ choice as to what kind of ballot they use.