2000 Results Using Proporational Allocation - Proposed Colorado Method

Article: August 25, 2004

- by David Leip

Recently, the Colorado Secretary of State Donetta Davidson recently certified that the ballot initiative, Amendment 36 to the Colorado Constitution, to change the method of choosing Presidential Electors from the "Winner-take-all" system to a proportional system based on popular vote had a sufficient number of signatures to be sent to the voters on November 2, 2004. The proposed amendment includes a subsection that specifically states that the new method of allocating electors applies to the 2004 Presidential Election.

Currently, Colorado chooses its presidential electors in the same manner as 48 other states and the District of Columbia - using the winner-take-all method.

from the Colorado State Constitution:
Schedule Section 20. Presidential electors after 1876. The general assembly
shall provide that after the year eighteen hundred and seventy-six the
electors of the electoral college shall be chosen by direct vote of the people.

This is actually a rather vague description. Generally, in a Winner-Take-All popular-vote method, a slate of Electors is pledged to each Presidential/ Vice-Presidential ticket (the Electors' names may or may not appear on the ballot). The slate of Electors pledged to the ticket having received the plurality of votes state-wide are chosen.

The new wording, based on the proposed amendment, is: THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ELECTORAL VOTES TO WHICH COLORADO IS ENTITLED SHALL BE DIVIDED AMONG THE PRESIDENTIAL TICKETS ON THE GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT, BASED UPON THE POPULAR PROPORTIONAL SHARE OF THE TOTAL STATEWIDE BALLOTS CAST FOR EACH PRESIDENTIAL TICKET, SUBJECT TO SUBSECTIONS (3) AND (4) OF THIS SECTION. EACH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTOR SHALL VOTE FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AND, BY SEPARATE BALLOT, VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE ON THE PRESIDENTIAL TICKET OF THE POLITICAL PARTY OR POLITICAL ORGANIZATION THAT NOMINATED THAT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTOR.

Methodology summary from sections (3) and (4): Electors are allocated in whole numbers only. The percentage of vote cast for each ticket is multiplied by the total number of available electors and rounded to the nearest whole number. If the sum of the total electors allocated is greater than the number available to be appointed, then the total electoral votes for the candidate having received the fewest number of ballots (that received at least one electoral vote) is reduced by one. If the sum of the total electors allocated is less than the total number of available electors, the Presidential Ticket receiving the greatest number of ballots is granted the remaining unallocated electors. Additional clarifications are included in the section with regard to ties, recounts, etc.

If this measure were in effect for the 2000 election, the results would be:

Candidate Total Votes Vote %EV*% Rounded EV
Bush883,745 50.8% 4.06 4
Gore738,227 42.4% 3.39 3
Nader 91,434 5.3% 0.42 0

Since the total of allocated electors is seven and the total available is eight, one additional elector is awarded to Bush, for a final tally of Bush 5, Gore 3. Under this hypothetical scenario, Gore wins the election with 271 Electoral Votes.

The Colorado Consitution reserves to the people the right to act in place of the state legislature. This clause gives the people of Colorado the ability to decide how electors are chosen as Article II, Section I of the United States Constitution states Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors ...

The initiative goes further, including subsection 5 (methodology for recounts of votes for each the ballot initiative and Presidential Electors), subsection 6 (election certifications of each the ballot initiative and Presidential Electors), subsection 7 (granting the Secretary of State the power to determine, by lot, which Presidential Electors are nominated from Presidential Tickets that qualify for at least on electoral vote), subsection 8 (Supreme Court original jurisdiction for the adjudication of all contests concerning Presidential Electors), subsection 9 (effectivity date of November 3, 2004), subsection 10 ("This section shall be liberally construed to achieve popular proportional allocation of Presidential Electors at the 2004 General Election") and subsection 11 (stating that the "general Assembly may enact legislation to change them anner of selecting Presidential Electors or any of the Procedures related thereto" - seemingly granting the legilature the ability to undo this amendment).

Pros & Cons
To my knowledge, this methodology for choosing Presidential Electors has no precedent. There are several pros and cons to this method:

Another point that could be argued either for or against the proposed change is that winner-take-all method (usually) exaggerates the margin of victory. Typically, a landslide electoral victory can be achieved with a simple majority in the popular vote, giving the impression of a mandate and national unity. For example, in 1984 Ronald Reagan won 58.8% of the popular vote, but 97.6% of the Electoral Vote. Likewise Franklin Roosevelt won 57.4% of the popular vote in 1932, but 88.9% of the Electoral Vote.

Overall, I think the idea of choosing Presidential Electors proportional to a candidates' performance in the popular vote is interesting, but for Colorado to enact the method on its own will essentially eliminate any influence the state currently has on the campaign.

The Method Applied to 2000
If the proposed Colorado method of allocating Presidential Electors is applied to all states in the 2000 Election, the Electoral Vote count is much closer to the popular vote and yields no electoral majority:


CandidatePopular Vote%Pop VoteElec Vote%Elec Vote
Gore51,003,92648.38%26950.0%
Bush50,460,11047.87%26348.9%
Nader2,883,1052.73%61.1%

Rounding Error bonus electors (as described in the method above) are granted to Gore in California, Illinois, Michigan, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Oregon, New Mexico, Iowa, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Bonus electors are awarded to Bush in Florida, Kansas, Utah, and Colorado. Nader loses one elector in Minnesota.

The result does not account for the abstention in the District of Columbia.

Since the Republicans controlled the majority of state delegations in the House of Representatives (109th congress), its a good bet that the parties would have fought over Florida for the one elector in an attempt to give Gore a majority in the Electoral College. Gore wins the bonus electors in most of the close states (NM, IA, OR, WI) and Bush has only four bonus electors (in KS, UT, CO, and FL). The next closest chance for Gore to gain a vote is Colorado where Gore requires an increase of 1.36 percentage points (about 23,000 votes). The election likely would have been decided by the House of Representatives in January of 2001. See the tables below for anaylsis details.

Election Results Table

State Total Elec Vote Gore Bush Nader
  EV D R G Democratic Republican Green
Alabama 9 4 5 0 695,602 41.59% 944,409 56.47% 18,349 1.10%
Alaska 3 1 2 0 79,004 27.67% 167,398 58.62% 28,747 10.07%
Arizona 8 4 4 0 685,341 44.67% 781,652 50.95% 45,645 2.98%
Arkansas 6 3 3 0 422,768 45.86% 472,940 51.31% 13,421 1.46%
California 54 30 22 2 5,861,203 53.45% 4,567,429 41.65% 418,707 3.82%
Colorado 8 3 5 0 738,227 42.39% 883,745 50.75% 91,434 5.25%
Connecticut 8 5 3 0 816,015 55.91% 561,094 38.44% 64,452 4.42%
Delaware 3 2 1 0 180,068 54.96% 137,288 41.90% 8,307 2.54%
District of Columbia 3 3 0 0 171,923 85.16% 18,073 8.95% 10,576 5.24%
Florida 25 12 13 0 2,912,253 48.84% 2,912,790 48.85% 97,488 1.63%
Georgia 13 6 7 0 1,116,230 42.98% 1,419,720 54.67% 13,432 0.52%
Hawaii 4 3 1 0 205,286 55.79% 137,845 37.46% 21,623 5.88%
Idaho 4 1 3 0 138,637 27.64% 336,937 67.17% 12,292 2.45%
Illinois 22 13 9 0 2,589,026 54.60% 2,019,421 42.58% 103,759 2.19%
Indiana 12 5 7 0 901,980 41.01% 1,245,836 56.65% 18,531 0.84%
Iowa 7 4 3 0 638,517 48.54% 634,373 48.22% 29,374 2.23%
Kansas 6 2 4 0 399,276 37.24% 622,332 58.04% 36,086 3.37%
Kentucky 8 3 5 0 638,898 41.37% 872,492 56.50% 23,192 1.50%
Louisiana 9 4 5 0 792,344 44.88% 927,871 52.55% 20,473 1.16%
Maine 4 2 2 0 319,951 49.09% 286,616 43.97% 37,127 5.70%
Maryland 10 6 4 0 1,145,782 56.57% 813,797 40.18% 53,768 2.65%
Massachusetts 12 7 4 1 1,616,487 59.80% 878,502 32.50% 173,564 6.42%
Michigan 18 10 8 0 2,170,418 51.28% 1,953,139 46.14% 84,165 1.99%
Minnesota 10 5 5 0 1,168,266 47.91% 1,109,659 45.50% 126,696 5.20%
Mississippi 7 3 4 0 404,964 40.70% 573,230 57.62% 8,126 0.82%
Missouri 11 5 6 0 1,111,138 47.08% 1,189,924 50.42% 38,515 1.63%
Montana 3 1 2 0 137,126 33.36% 240,178 58.44% 24,437 5.95%
Nebraska 5 2 3 0 231,780 33.25% 433,862 62.25% 24,540 3.52%
Nevada 4 2 2 0 279,978 45.98% 301,575 49.52% 15,008 2.46%
New Hampshire 4 2 2 0 266,348 46.80% 273,559 48.07% 22,198 3.90%
New Jersey 15 9 6 0 1,788,850 56.13% 1,284,173 40.29% 94,554 2.97%
New Mexico 5 3 2 0 286,783 47.91% 286,417 47.85% 21,251 3.55%
New York 33 20 12 1 4,107,907 60.21% 2,403,374 35.23% 244,060 3.58%
North Carolina 14 6 8 0 1,257,692 43.20% 1,631,163 56.03% 0 0.00%
North Dakota 3 1 2 0 95,284 33.05% 174,852 60.66% 9,497 3.29%
Ohio 21 10 10 1 2,186,190 46.46% 2,351,209 49.97% 117,857 2.50%
Oklahoma 8 3 5 0 474,276 38.43% 744,337 60.31% 0 0.00%
Oregon 7 4 3 0 720,342 46.96% 713,577 46.52% 77,357 5.04%
Pennsylvania 23 12 11 0 2,485,967 50.60% 2,281,127 46.43% 103,392 2.10%
Rhode Island 4 3 1 0 249,508 60.99% 130,555 31.91% 25,052 6.12%
South Carolina 8 3 5 0 566,039 40.91% 786,426 56.83% 20,279 1.47%
South Dakota 3 1 2 0 118,804 37.56% 190,700 60.30% 0 0.00%
Tennessee 11 5 6 0 981,720 47.28% 1,061,949 51.15% 19,781 0.95%
Texas 32 12 19 1 2,433,746 37.98% 3,799,639 59.30% 137,994 2.15%
Utah 5 1 4 0 203,053 26.34% 515,096 66.83% 35,850 4.65%
Vermont 3 2 1 0 149,022 50.63% 119,775 40.70% 20,374 6.92%
Virginia 13 6 7 0 1,217,290 44.44% 1,437,490 52.47% 59,398 2.17%
Washington 11 6 5 0 1,247,652 50.13% 1,108,864 44.56% 103,002 4.14%
West Virginia 5 2 3 0 295,497 45.59% 336,475 51.92% 10,680 1.65%
Wisconsin 11 6 5 0 1,242,987 47.83% 1,237,279 47.61% 94,070 3.62%
Wyoming 3 1 2 0 60,481 27.70% 147,947 67.76% 4,625 2.12%
Total 538 269 263 6 51,003,926 48.38% 50,460,110 47.87% 2,883,105 2.73%

Electoral Vote Calculation Table

    Proportional EV Rounded EV Bonus EV
  Elec Vote EV D EV R EV G EV D EV R EV G B D B R B G
Alabama 9 3.74 5.08 0.10 4 5 0 0 0 0
Alaska 3 0.83 1.76 0.30 1 2 0 0 0 0
Arizona 8 3.57 4.08 0.24 4 4 0 0 0 0
Arkansas 6 2.75 3.08 0.09 3 3 0 0 0 0
California 54 28.86 22.49 2.06 29 22 2 1 0 0
Colorado 8 3.39 4.06 0.42 3 4 0 0 1 0
Connecticut 8 4.47 3.08 0.35 4 3 0 1 0 0
Delaware 3 1.65 1.26 0.08 2 1 0 0 0 0
District of Columbia 3 2.55 0.27 0.16 3 0 0 0 0 0
Florida 25 12.21 12.21 0.41 12 12 0 0 1 0
Georgia 13 5.59 7.11 0.07 6 7 0 0 0 0
Hawaii 4 2.23 1.50 0.24 2 1 0 1 0 0
Idaho 4 1.11 2.69 0.10 1 3 0 0 0 0
Illinois 22 12.01 9.37 0.48 12 9 0 1 0 0
Indiana 12 4.92 6.80 0.10 5 7 0 0 0 0
Iowa 7 3.40 3.38 0.16 3 3 0 1 0 0
Kansas 6 2.23 3.48 0.20 2 3 0 0 1 0
Kentucky 8 3.31 4.52 0.12 3 5 0 0 0 0
Louisiana 9 4.04 4.73 0.10 4 5 0 0 0 0
Maine 4 1.96 1.76 0.23 2 2 0 0 0 0
Maryland 10 5.66 4.02 0.27 6 4 0 0 0 0
Massachusetts 12 7.18 3.90 0.77 7 4 1 0 0 0
Michigan 18 9.23 8.31 0.36 9 8 0 1 0 0
Minnesota 10 4.79 4.55 0.52 5 5 1 0 0 -1
Mississippi 7 2.85 4.03 0.06 3 4 0 0 0 0
Missouri 11 5.18 5.55 0.18 5 6 0 0 0 0
Montana 3 1.00 1.75 0.18 1 2 0 0 0 0
Nebraska 5 1.66 3.11 0.18 2 3 0 0 0 0
Nevada 4 1.84 1.98 0.10 2 2 0 0 0 0
New Hampshire 4 1.87 1.92 0.16 2 2 0 0 0 0
New Jersey 15 8.42 6.04 0.44 8 6 0 1 0 0
New Mexico 5 2.40 2.39 0.18 2 2 0 1 0 0
New York 33 19.87 11.63 1.18 20 12 1 0 0 0
North Carolina 14 6.05 7.84 0.00 6 8 0 0 0 0
North Dakota 3 0.99 1.82 0.10 1 2 0 0 0 0
Ohio 21 9.76 10.49 0.53 10 10 1 0 0 0
Oklahoma 8 3.07 4.82 0.00 3 5 0 0 0 0
Oregon 7 3.29 3.26 0.35 3 3 0 1 0 0
Pennsylvania 23 11.64 10.68 0.48 12 11 0 0 0 0
Rhode Island 4 2.44 1.28 0.24 2 1 0 1 0 0
South Carolina 8 3.27 4.55 0.12 3 5 0 0 0 0
South Dakota 3 1.13 1.81 0.00 1 2 0 0 0 0
Tennessee 11 5.20 5.63 0.10 5 6 0 0 0 0
Texas 32 12.15 18.98 0.69 12 19 1 0 0 0
Utah 5 1.32 3.34 0.23 1 3 0 0 1 0
Vermont 3 1.52 1.22 0.21 2 1 0 0 0 0
Virginia 13 5.78 6.82 0.28 6 7 0 0 0 0
Washington 11 5.51 4.90 0.46 6 5 0 0 0 0
West Virginia 5 2.28 2.60 0.08 2 3 0 0 0 0
Wisconsin 11 5.26 5.24 0.40 5 5 0 1 0 0
Wyoming 3 0.83 2.03 0.06 1 2 0 0 0 0
Total 538 258.27 259.17 14.90 258 259 7 11 4 -1

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