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Electoral College votes decide the results of a US election and can subvert a near-certain outcome from popular vote polling. Polling experts predicted a sure victory for Hillary Clinton in 2016, with a 72 percent chance she would take the White House. She won the popular vote, but the Electoral College swung it in Donald Trump’s direction, meaning politicians will pay added attention to the often confusing institution this year.
How will the Electoral College swing in 2020?
When Americans vote, they decide who will represent them in Congress, by choosing a candidate from one of the available parties.
In reality, however, they vote for electors who represent their chosen candidate, and 538 of these exist across the US.
Each state has a portion of these 538 electors depending on the number of congressional districts they have.
To win, candidates need a majority of 270 electors, and the college operates on a winner-takes-all philosophy.
Whoever gains a majority in a state secures all of their Electoral College votes, no matter how slim the victory.
As such, while President Trump has seen support collapse this year, he could still win thanks to the Electoral College.
Although he has a significant lead in the polls, Mr Biden has the slimmest majority in Republican-leaning states.
These states fall amongst those with the most Electoral College votes and could usher in a second Trump term.
Pollsters with the aptly named FiveThirtyEight have pinpointed 14 states which could swing the election.
- North Carolina
- New Hampshire
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According to FiveThirtyEight, these 14 states together decide the election in 94 percent of their simulations.
Of these 11 lean more Republican than the country as a whole, and in nine of 10 simulations the pollsters run, “tipping point” states which could decide the results end up leaning to the right.
Only three tend to vote to the left; Minnesota, Colorado and Virginia.
Consequently, while the popular vote predicts a Biden win, Mr Trump could repeat his 2016 success on this basis.
FiveThirtyEight has given Mr Biden a nine in 10 chance to win the national popular vote, but less than an eight in 10 chance to take the Electoral College.
Their simulations show wins for Mr Trump more often in the Electoral College when he loses the popular vote.
The way for the Democrat nominee to win is by a notable margin, meaning three points or more.
While this is possible, the rightward tilt of the Electoral College may decide the election.
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