This Map Provides a Radical New Vision of the 50 States

November 20th 2016

Dave Fonseca

Americans are learning some cold, hard truths about the Electoral College for the second time in the new millennium.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had earned 1 million more votes than President-elect Donald Trump at last count, the Nation reported earlier this week. But because states are awarded Electoral College votes on a semi-proportional basis, Trump is currently assembling a transition team while Clinton goes for walks in the woods.

final Electoral College map

Electoral College votes are distributed based on a each state's congressional representation.

That means every state starts off with two electors, because every state has two senators.

Each state then gets one elector for each member in the House of Representatives, which is determined by a state's population.

If that makes it seem like smaller states are disproportionately represented in the Electoral College, that's because they are. In fact, legal scholar Akhil Reed Amar argued in Time that the Electoral College was explicitly devised to help smaller Southern states preserve the institution of slavery.

The quirks of the Electoral College raise the question: What would the United States look like if its constituent parts were truly equal?

A map created by artist Neil Freeman in 2012 provides at least one answer.

electoral college map

Freeman's map splits the United States into 50 equal slices based on 2010 census data. Freeman's map eliminates the problem of disproportionate representation by any state in the Electoral College.

There are some fascinating implications to Freeman's map, which was drafted four years before the drama of the 2016 presidential election.

  • How would Democrats campaign in Ogallala, which spans deep red North Dakota and light blue Colorado?
  • Which portions of California would turn red under the new system?
  • Would Republicans' grip on the Texas region be broken?
  • Most important, how would a truly proportional electoral system shift the platforms of the parties themselves?

To read Freeman's take on the advantages of this new map and to learn more about his methodology, head over to his website Fake Is the New Real.

[h/t MentalFloss]