The World Electoral College according to the Economist

By Nick Li

The Economist magazine has an interesting map that shows what the US election would look like if everyone in the world could vote. Each country is like a US state, in that it gets 3 automatic electoral college votes and then additional votes proportional to population. The 50%+1 majority gets all the electoral college votes for that country. The choice of each country is based on a survey of Economist readers, so obviously this is a highly biased sample. Nevertheless the results are interesting – an overhwhelming Obama landslide 8202 to 8.

Five of the McCain votes come from Macedonia (5 electoral college votes), where McCain is apparently quite popular and holds a 60-40% lead as of today. It will be interesting to see if any of the results change. I couldn’t tell where McCain picked up the other 3 votes, though he appears to be tied in El Salvador (which is worth 12 electoral votes total). A few notable results are that Economist readers in the US tend to be more liberal than the general population as Obama enjoys a 79-21% lead in the Economist survey but only 4-10% lead based on US polls (5.3% today for the Real Clear Politics average average, a poll of polls). This in spite of the conservative reputation of the magazine (my high school economics teacher, an unapologetic Reaganite/Thatcherite, treated the magazine as gospel). Also surprising is that Israeli Economist readers lean 74-26% towards Obama despite polls earlier in the year that revealed that Obama trailed McCain 36 to 27 (with lots of undecideds!) among Israelis (46-20 in another poll).

Less surprising is that conservative Latin American countries that have resolutely pro-Bush leaders, like El Salvador and Colombia, tend to be more pro-McCain. Obama enjoys his biggest leads in Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, while also enjoying substantial support in Pakistan and Afghanistan, two states on which he has advocated different policies than McCain.

Of particular interest would be the results for Iraq (not enough votes) and Georgia. McCain has used heated pro-Georgian and anti-Russian rhetoric as part of his campaign (I looked in Putin’s eyes and saw three letters, KGB), criticizing Obama for preaching restraint on both sides after the recent Russian invasion, and his chief foreign policy advisor is a lobbyist for the Georgian government. It seems safe to predict that Iraqis will vote largely for Obama, and it remains to be seen whether McCain’s desire for permanent military bases and a long term US military presenc resonates with local voters.

One thought on “The World Electoral College according to the Economist

  1. The real issue is not how well Obama or McCain might do state-by-state, but that we shouldn’t have battleground states and spectator states in the first place. Every vote in every state should be politically relevant in a presidential election. And, every vote should be equal. We should have a national popular vote for President in which the White House goes to the candidate who gets the most popular votes in all 50 states.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral vote — that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Because of state-by-state enacted rules for winner-take-all awarding of their electoral votes, recent candidates with limited funds have concentrated their attention on a handful of closely divided “battleground” states. In 2004 two-thirds of the visits and money were focused in just six states; 88% on 9 states, and 99% of the money went to just 16 states. Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential election.

    Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 21 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes– 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


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