The President and Vice-President are elected by an "Electoral College", rather than by direct popular vote.
Each state is allocated "electoral votes" equal to the total number of Senators and Representatives allocated
to that state. The District of Columbia is also allocated 3 electoral votes. On election day, voters are actually
voting for Electoral College members who promise to vote for the candidates of their respective political parties.
In all but two states the party with the greatest number of votes receives all the electoral votes for that state,
even if no candidate gets a majority. Nebraska and Maine allow their electoral votes to be split amoung candidates,
but this has not actually happened in modern times. The calculator supports split votes using the advanced features
checkbox. States which split their votes are shown in gray.
In order to win, a "ticket" (A party's Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates) must receive 270 votes, one
more than half of the total of 538 electoral votes. If no ticket has 270 votes, then the House of Representatives
decides the election.
The electoral system forces candidates to carefully allocate their time and money among the states. Each candidate
must devise a campaigning strategy which gives him or her the best chance to win at least 270 electoral votes.
This page contains a Java applet which allows the user to experiment with different campaign strategies or to track
the probable election outcome based on the user's estimate of state-by-state election outcomes.
To use the Electoral College calculator, select states by picking the
state name on the list box, or clicking near the center of the state on
the map. After a state is selected, press the radio button
corresponding to the winning party.
The calculator will display running totals and votes needed to win. By checking the "advanced features" checkbox
you can split the votes of a single state amoung several slates, and you can copy the results of a prior election to the
currently displayed map. Data for all prior U.S. elections is available.
calculator requires that you have the Java Runtime, which was included
in all versions of Windows prior to Windows XP. If you do not see the
calculator, obtain the Java Runtime here: Sun Java Runtime