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Statistics, Politics and Policy

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Estimating Partisan Bias of the Electoral College Under Proposed Changes in Elector Apportionment

A. C. Thomas
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of ­Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
  • :
/ Andrew Gelman
  • Professor, Departments of Statistics and Political Science, Columbia University
/ Gary King
  • Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
/ Jonathan N. Katz
  • Kay Sugahara Professor of Social Sciences and Statistics and Chair of the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
Published Online: 2013-01-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/spp-2012-0001


In the election for President of the United States, the Electoral College is the body whose members vote to elect the President directly. Each state sends a number of delegates equal to its total number of representatives and senators in Congress; all but two states (Nebraska and Maine) assign electors pledged to the candidate that wins the state’s plurality vote. We investigate the effect on presidential elections if states were to assign their electoral votes according to results in each congressional district, and conclude that the direct popular vote and the current electoral college are both substantially fairer compared to those alternatives where states would have divided their electoral votes by congressional district.

Corresponding author: A. C. Thomas, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Published Online: 2013-01-11

Citation Information: Statistics, Politics and Policy. Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 1–13, ISSN (Online) 2151-7509, ISSN (Print) 2194-6299, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/spp-2012-0001, January 2013

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