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By Diana Diamond

Biden wins -- but by a smaller margin -- Is this a better way to do it?

Uploaded: Nov 18, 2020

Last week I wrote about the Electoral College, acknowledging that while it caused problems, and twice in recent years elected candidates whose vote totals were lower than their presidential opponents, I suggested that rather than discarding it which would take years since it's embedded in the Constitution, a simpler, quicker way for improvement would be to have a "proportional" counting system in each state. For example, if 70 percent of New York presidential votes went to the Dems and 30 percent to the GOP, then 70 percent of the electors would be Dems and 30 percent Republicans.

This week, a wonderful volunteer and also a friend, Eleanor Willemsen, a Palo Alto resident, did an analysis of how proportional voting would have worked in the 2020 election. I was more than surprised at the results. Eleanor, who holds a Ph.D., is professor emerita of psychology at Santa Clara University.

The NYT had wonderful chart in its special election supplement after the election that showed the number of electors in each state and how many votes each residential candidate received.

The result: Biden won, but by a smaller margin!

Under the "winner take all" system most states now use, the result has been 306 electors for Biden, 231 for Trump. Under the proportional system, Biden gets 277 and Trump receives 261, as calculated by Eleanor.

The advantage in using the proportional system is that every vote counts, even if you are a member of a minority party in your state (California is overwhelming a Democratic state.)

The disadvantage is that despite a 5 million plurality, that high count doesn't show up much in picking electors.

It would be nice to see how the 2016 election turned out if proportional voting were used. But anyway, this gives us some data, and a bit of thinking and analyzing on how best to improve the Electoral College.

Unfortunately, I cannot import the chart. It listed each state and D.C. under six categories. The results for California were as follows: # of electoral votes, 55; proportion of votes cast for
Biden, .640; for Trump, .339; electors for Biden, 36, and for Trump, 19.

Thank you so much, Eleanor!