Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people may not be able to safely vote in-person and the GOP is generally against expanding mail-in voting because they assert it would make it easier to commit election fraud.

In the unlikely event that a vote doesn't take place, State legislatures can then appoint electors and if that happens that will then likely happen along party lines. Since the composition of all the State legislatures is known, we should be able to predict the outcome of the elections held this way. So, who would win the elections if all states appointed electors based on a party-line vote of their State legislatures?


1 Answer 1



Republicans: 302
Democrats:   220
Swing:        16

Trump would only need 270 electors to win, so he wins uncontested.

This is an interesting thought experiment. Keep in mind, this assumes elections are held this way. They may not be. Also worth noting is that this assumes legislatures appoint all electors to the same party and don't do some kind of weird split.

This kind of question is hard to answer, specifically because there are some legislatures that are "purple," or there is no clear part winner. I have called these S for swing states. My approach is to ignore these for now and deal with them later if I have to.

I should also mention that Washington DC gets 3 electors. Since I don't know how these would be distributed--especially in this type of scenario--I'll label is as "swing" too and come back to it if I need to.

With that said, using this list from Wikipedia, we get the legislatures. And with this list, we get the electors. Putting them together, we get this really long table:

State,               Legislature        Electors
District of Columbia        S                3
Alabama                     R                9
Alaska                      S                3
Arizona                     R               11
Arkansas                    R                6
California                  D               55
Colorado                    D                9
Connecticut                 D                7
Delaware                    D                3
Florida                     R               29
Georgia                     R               16
Hawaii                      D                4
Idaho                       R                4
Illinois                    D               20
Indiana                     R               11
Iowa                        R                6
Kansas                      R                6
Kentucky                    R                8
Louisiana                   R                8
Maine                       D                4
Maryland                    D               10
Massachusetts               D               11
Michigan                    R               16
Minnesota                   S               10
Mississippi                 R                6
Missouri                    R               10
Montana                     R                3
Nebraska                    R                5
Nevada                      D                6
New Hampshire               D                4
New Jersey                  D               14
New Mexico                  D                5
New York                    D               29
North Carolina              R               15
North Dakota                R                3
Ohio                        R               18
Oklahoma                    R                7
Oregon                      D                7
Pennsylvania                R               20
Rhode Island                D                4
South Carolina              R                9
South Dakota                R                3
Tennessee                   R               11
Texas                       R               38
Utah                        R                6
Vermont                     D                3
Virginia                    D               13
Washington                  D               12
West Virginia               R                5
Wisconsin                   R               10
Wyoming                     R                3

Now, all we have to do is add them up. We get this result:

Republicans: 302
Democrats:   220
Swing:        16

A party needs 270 electors to win. The Republicans (and, by extension, Trump), have well over that, into the 300s. Thus, we don't even have to worry about the 16 "swing" ones. There is already a winner here: the Republicans (Trump).

Keep in mind, this assumes that the state legislatures do appoint the electors, and that everything goes along party lines. A real scenario like this might end up a lot more complicated and is unlikely to happen (at least, certainly this cleanly).

  • 1
    The problem is that you're using the composition of the state legislatures today. Many of them could (and almost certainly would, to some degree) change after Election Day and before the date for choosing electors. Even if state legislative elections were not held, the terms of the legislators up for re-election would expire. For instance, in my state the terms of all the lower house and half of the upper house expire the day after election day, and presumably would do so even if the election wasn't held.
    – jamesqf
    Apr 20, 2020 at 18:02
  • all it takes is one senator and one rep to prevent the electoral college from reaching a consensus, which would throw the election of the president to the new house, and veep to the new senate. No elections = President Pelosi.
    – dandavis
    Apr 20, 2020 at 19:28
  • 5
    @jamesqf This whole scenario is very unlikely to begin with. As others have mentioned, we held elections even during the 1918 pandemic. So I doubt covid-19 will stop elections anyway. Plus, who says each legislature has the power to appoint electors anyway? There's a lot that could go wrong here. This is just the best I could do, given what the OP asked.
    – user29681
    Apr 20, 2020 at 19:44
  • 4
    Calling Washington DC "swing" doesn't strike me as realistic. Historically, it's the most heavily Democratic "state" in the country, so unless something really strange is going on, it'll send three "D" electors.
    – Mark
    Apr 20, 2020 at 20:12
  • 1
    @Mark Agreed, probably not. It's just one I didn't have data for at the time of writing. I was going to adjust it later if it was necessary, but it wasn't to declare a winner. So I just left it. even if all 16 "swing" votes swung Democrat, the Republicans would still win anyway.
    – user29681
    Apr 20, 2020 at 20:58

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