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For simplicity, I would assume that all electors are faithful and use 2016 November general election information (registered votes and turnover), so that I work with realistic figures (especially when it comes to turnover).

In order to obtain this, I am thinking about a Greedy approach: order states by the "quickest win", i.e. most electors votes per votes and consider them one by one until reaching the required 270 votes. This is not guaranteed to provide the optimum, but it should be close enough.

So, for a state, its value to be considered when ordering equals to:

Electors votes / (Registered voters * Vote turnover)

I have found this Excel file that contains values for 2016 general election and this article that contains electoral votes breakdown per state.

I am quite confused on what column to use from the excel document to evaluate "Registered voters * Vote turnover".

Also, is my approach correct? Or, I have missed other aspects of the general election

Question: How to find out the minimum popular vote percentage determine the minimum popular vote that yields a majority of electors in the college?

Note: I know some parts belong to programming more than politics. I am interested in obtaining reliable raw data and catching all the required political aspect.

marked as duplicate by JonathanReez, Martin Tournoij, SleepingGod, Federico, Bobson Aug 21 '17 at 9:23

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • You might need to add some extra limiting factors to rule out weird, but technically admissible results like every state going to a different candidate, then the winner being selected by the House of Representatives. – origimbo Aug 19 '17 at 17:26
  • Is this what you are looking for?politics.stackexchange.com/questions/13094/… – SJuan76 Aug 19 '17 at 18:03
  • @origimbo - I do not know if I understood your comment correctly, but I am interested in the final phase of the election when only there are only two candidates. – Alexei Aug 19 '17 at 19:28
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    @Alexei There is no such final phase with only 2 candidates. – Peter Aug 19 '17 at 21:20
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    When you say "turnover" do you mean "turnout"? We calculate turnout = actual votes cast / registered voters. But it seems simpler to just use actual votes cast, which the Wikipedia source has in the column Total # (the third column starting from the right). The Excel file has this in column H, which is equal to the products of either E and I or F and J. – Brythan Aug 20 '17 at 13:44
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Originally:

How to find out the minimum popular vote percentage a successful US presidential candidate can have?

Revised:

How to find out the minimum popular vote percentage determine the minimum popular vote that yields a majority of electors in the college?

The answer to this is 0%. It is possible to win one to nothing in enough states that the candidates gets at least 270 electoral college votes, which is enough to win. If a candidate did that in forty-nine states plus the District of Columbia while losing California by ten million to none, that would round to 0% of the popular vote while producing an electoral college landslide (483-55).

Admittedly that is an unlikely result, but it is a mathematically possible one.

In a comment, you explain that you want something more like the method in this answer.

yes, that is close to what I need, but the answer assumes a constant turnout across all states. I would like to use the actual turnover from 2016 November elections. So, my question reduces to: where can I find the actual cast votes per each state (since the algorithm is validated by the linked answer - winning with a one-vote margin the states with the highest ratio of electoral votes per capita.)

If you want the actual votes cast per state in 2016, that's on Wikipedia. It also has the electoral college votes per state, but it removes faithless electors for other candidates. You might prefer to get the electoral college numbers for the whole states.

I threw it in a spreadsheet, and the winner of the thirty-one places with the fewest votes per electoral college vote loses the popular vote by about 79.6% to 20.4%. That assumes that the same number of people vote overall, but they all vote for one of two candidates. In twenty-five places, everyone votes for one candidate. This results in 268 electoral college votes. In thirty-one places, the vote is as closely divided as it can be and still produce a decision.

There are fifty-six places rather than fifty states because the District of Columbia is not a state but has three electors and Maine and Nebraska split off the votes for their five congressional districts.

Note that each state has more than two candidates in the real election of 2016. You could use this to further reduce the margin. Instead of winning a majority, a plurality would be sufficient. So it would be possible to win with 10% or less.

  • I have rephrased the question and I think the second part of your answer applies: the winner of the thirty-one places with the fewest votes per electoral college vote loses the popular vote by about 79.6% to 20.4%. Thank you. – Alexei Aug 20 '17 at 5:53

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