At Least I Learned a Few Things from the Drawn-Out Election

While I spent way too much time the past few days checking CNN, 538, Fox News, and Twitter for updates about the results of the election, I did learn a few civic-related things along the way.

First, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that a Presidential candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the election.

Second, thanks to how many times the term was mentioned, I was able to figure out what the word “tranche” meant. Here was an example of its use: Election officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, are working to release one more tranche of votes before breaking for the night, CNN’s Kyung Lah reports from inside the county’s elections department in Phoenix. While the word seems to be used primarily in the world of finance, it can apply here to refer to a slice of the overall votes. I’d prefer if they just used the phrase “a bunch of votes”.

Third, I found out about the weird process we have if there was a tie in electoral votes. Here is the description from Wikipedia:

A presidential contingent election is decided by a special vote of the United States House of Representatives, while a vice-presidential contingent election is decided by a vote of the United States Senate. During a contingent election in the House, each state’s delegation casts one en bloc vote to determine the president, rather than a vote from each representative. Senators, on the other hand, cast votes individually for vice president.

  • For President, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of state delegation votes (currently 26 votes) to become the president-elect. The House continues balloting until it elects a president. As a consequence of the state delegation voting method, the party that holds the majority in the House could still lose the contingent election if the minority party holds the majority of state delegations.
  • For Vice-President, unlike in the House, senators cast votes individually in this election. Because the Senate votes independently from the House during a contingent election, the House’s presidential selection and the Senate’s vice presidential selection could be from opposing parties. Additionally, the 12th Amendment requires a “majority of the whole number” of senators (currently 51 of 100) to elect the vice president in a contingent election.

Imagine having a President and a Vice President from different parties!

Fourth, I learned another new word: psephologist. This is a person who focuses on the statistical study of elections and trends in voting. I think of Nate Silver as an example of such a person, but I think this past week, the U.S. just picked up a few million new psephologists…

I wonder if I’ll remember all this stuff four years from now…

*image from Sovereign Group

33 thoughts on “At Least I Learned a Few Things from the Drawn-Out Election

  1. With any luck, much of this stuff will never come up again in our lifetimes.

    I was thinking, if the Supreme Court throws out election results in several of our states, neither candidate will have 270 votes. This will throw the presidential election to the House, where the Republicans control a majority of the states’ voting blocs. Knowing that Trump would win, maybe Nancy could get away with not holding a vote, and thus not selecting a President.

    Since the Senate is presently controlled by Republicans, they would likely select Mike Pence to be Veep, and he would serve as Acting President. But if the two runoff elections in Georgia go the Democrats way, the Senate would be tied 50-50. Pence would still be Vice-President, and thus cast the tie-breaking vote. Thus, Pence could elect himself both Vice-President and Acting President.

    But if constitutionally he’s not allowed to cast a tie-breaking vote in this situation, then the Senate would not be able to choose a Vice-President. Then the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, would become the Acting President.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope we don’t have the craziness that we had this time around, but I kind of want to see a tie just once in my lifetime to see how this process plays out.

      You’ve mapped out quite an interesting path for Peolsi to become President!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m still not sure what I think of the Electoral College after all of these years. It’s like some kind of statistical math trick. In 2016, the popular vote was 48.0% Clinton to 45.9% Trump (2.1% difference) Yet, Trump won the Electoral college 306-232.

    The totals for 2020 thus far show the popular vote at 50.7% Biden to 47.7% Trump (3.0% difference) If the current state counts stay the same the electoral count will be exactly the same 306-232. The only difference is that Trump is on the losing side this time. That’s a big difference considering that Biden only is winning the popular vote by 1% more than Clinton.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Jim,

    How to Mislead With Statistics
    Statistical Anomalies in Biden Votes, Analyses Indicate —

    Jensen Comment
    Be aware that the above article is published by a conservative and highly biased media outlet. In spite of this the article raises some interesting questions such as Benford’s Law commonly used by accountants (think IRS) in search of fraud in financial data. Benford’s Law is also a common component of forensic accounting education —

    I want to claim that I do no support the long delay in the the GOP concession that Trump lost to Biden. But it is interesting how data analysts are identifying and analyzing statistical anomalies. Readers can be confused by false claims of statistical anomalies and true anomalies that are not due to fraud or error —

    Having said this I don’t think there’s probably sufficient evidence to overthrow the 2020 election results. Investigations of fraud should proceed to improve the integrity of future elections. But the Biden team should not be delayed in their efforts to take over the leadership of the USA.

    Election fraud analysis becomes increasingly important as the margins of difference vote counts shrink like they did in the November 2020 election. Some fraud controls in live voting are lost when votes are accepted by mail. For example, it’s much harder for the dead to show up at the voting centers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hi Bob, thanks for sharing your info about statistics and the election. It was a strange one indeed.

      And while I don’t want to see it happen in this election, I think at some point I wouldn’t mind a tie just so that I could see the whole process of how they manage ties in action.


  4. My husband and I were talking about how crazy but interesting it would be to have 2 different parties as P and VP. Who knows it could be the best thing to happen! For they would have to learn how to work together……OR….it could be a disaster!


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