January 2013 Archives

The Statistical Properties of the Electoral College Are Perfectly Bearable

What follows: I give a not-so-ringing endorsement of the Electoral College, by showing that the current mode has reasonable partisan symmetry. I'd still prefer a scheme with the national popular vote, but what we've got ain't so broke.

Andrew Gelman
, Gary King, Jonathan Katz and I published an article on the Electoral College just in time to miss the 2012 US Presidentlal election (here from SSRN and here from the journal website) but apparently just in time to catch the reactions of people complaining about how the election went. Last week, news broke that a group of Virginia politicians wanted to reapportion their state's electoral votes by congressional district, echoing similar attempts in Pennsylvania in 2012 and California in 2008, making it clear that the issue isn't going away any time soon.

In brief, we quantified how much partisan bias there has been in the electoral college system as it stands today (essentially none), if certain states reapportioned in this matter (it depends on the state), and if all states did so (it would have been substantially biased towards the Republicans). In extending the analysis for this post, we find that the Electoral College had no meaningful partisan bias in the 2012 election either.