Let’s Talk About the Electoral College

road to 270

Do you want to win the White House in November 2020? Well then, there is one thing we need to do. Just one. Win the Electoral College.

As much as I’d prefer that we go by a national popular vote, the fact remains that the system that will be in place to elect the next president is the Electoral College. Our strategy to win the White House must focus on that goal. (And yes, I know there is momentum around the Popular Vote Compact which I’ve written about HERE, but it won’t be in place until 2022 at the earliest.)

The Swing States

Election experts will define swing states in different ways, but for the purpose of this post, I’m going to look at those states where the vote for Clinton and Trump was really close in 2016. The states where the difference in the votes between the candidates was 4 points or less: AZ, CO, FL, ME, MI, MN, NV, NH, NC, PA, VA, WI.

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States where the votes for Clinton and Trump were 4 points or less in 2016

If you’re looking for a place to start focusing your energies towards winning the Electoral College, this is a good list.

The Road to 270

A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win. But the math can add up in many ways. To help you decide where you want to focus your energy, take a moment to play with the map.

Here’s what the final 2016 map looked like (yes, I know this is painful):

2016 map

Final Electoral College distribution in 2016

Now, fill out a 2020 map for yourself. Here’s a great one where most of the map is filled out but you’ve got toss-up states to play with. There is also an option to start with the 2016 or 2018 map. Here’s the link:


Based on your map, which state (or states) do you want to focus on?

(And yes, I know that a 269-269 tie is a possibility. But that is a post for another day.)

How to Help Win a Swing State

If you live in one of these states, volunteer for one of the many organizations that are focusing on voter registration and turnout. It could be your local Democratic party, the local chapter of the League for Women Voters, Indivisible, the NAACP, or another organization.

If you don’t live in a swing state, help them by donating to those state Democratic parties, as they will use that money to hire organizers who will train and work with scores of volunteers who will do the crucial in-person work of canvassing and speaking with voters.

Swing Left is another organization that is focusing on quite a number of the swing states. Sign up with them to help drive engagement and turnout in those states. You can do that HERE.

Spread the Vote, which works to get people the ID they need to vote, is focused on a few of the swing states including Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. Help them by donating or volunteering HERE.

There are other ways to help, but these will get you started. If you have any other ideas I should include in this post, please leave a comment so others can see your suggestion, too.

One Final Note

If you want to win the Electoral College, focusing your efforts on driving turnout in one of the swing states is a good strategy. This post is focused only on what you should do if winning the Electoral College is a goal you have.

However I, for one, want to win a lot more than just the White House in 2020. In order for us to keep the House, flip governorships and state legislatures all over the country, we need to invest in turning out the vote in every state and every district.

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2 replies

  1. This is fab! Thank you. @DemsAbroad Stockholm member…

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