This is the first part in Pocket’s guide to the Electoral College. For a roundup of the best arguments for and against the system, as well as possible alternatives, see Debating the Electoral College.
American presidential elections are a strange beast. When Americans go to vote for their preferred presidential candidate in November of election years, they are actually voting for the state electors who have pledged to support that candidate in the Electoral College. Only in December do the 538 members of the Electoral College cast their votes for president, officially deciding who will take the oath of office in January.
Read on to understand how the Electoral College works, its history and evolution, and other quirks of America’s unique system for electing a president.
In politics, as in military conflict, there is a tendency among generals and journalists alike to fight the last war. But battlegrounds often change.
The very nature of the way the U.S. picks its presidents tends to create a disconnect between the outcome in the Electoral College and the popular vote.