Sizing the States Based On Electoral Votes

Posted In: Maps | Voting

Electoral Vote maps give more visual power to states with large areas but few electoral votes

This map shows the electoral outcome of the 2016 and 2020 US Presidential Election and is color coded red if the state was won by Donald Trump (R) and blue if the state was won by Hilary Clinton or Joe Biden. When looking at the map, red states tend to be larger in area than blue states, but also generally have lower populations. This gives a misleading impression that the electoral share is “redder” than it actually is. For 2016, we can see that Trump won 306 electoral votes or (57% of the total electoral votes), but the map is shaded such that 73% of the area of the US is colored red. Similarly, Clinton won 232 electoral votes, but the map is shaded such that only 27% of the map is colored blue. For 2020, we can see that Biden won 306 electoral votes or (57% of the total electoral votes), but the map is shaded such that 38% of the area of the US is colored blue. Trump won 232 electoral votes, but the map is shaded such that 62% of the map is colored red.

The map shrinks the states with low electoral votes relative to its area and increases the size of states with large numbers of electoral votes relative to its area. On average blue states grow as they are under-represented visually, while red states tend to shrink quite a bit because they are over-represented visually. Alaska is the state that shrinks the most and DC and New Jersey are the areas that grow the most in the new map.

Here’s another map I made that looks at the 2016 and 2020 Presidential Election by County and shows the size of each county by land area or population.

I think this gives a more accurate picture of how the states voted because it also gives a sense of the relative weight of those states votes.

Data and Tools:
Data on electoral votes is from Wikipedia. The map was made using the leaflet open source mapping library. Data was compiled and calculations on resizing states were made using javascript.

Re-sizing The Electoral Map


6 Responses to Sizing the States Based On Electoral Votes

  1. Hops says:

    Some states like Alaska have only 3 electoral vote, but other states have much more-California has 55. The Blue states have more people in them thus more electoral votes.

  2. Randyruss says:

    The states do not have equal numbers of electoral votes therefore the state count does not determine the winner.

  3. anonymous says:

    i’m not comprehending why in the presidential voting that there are more states in red yet blue is winning.. I understand that it’s based on population to a degree but currently it appears to show that only 13 states are showing blue color.. as those voting for the democratic candidate whereas there seems to show 20 some states in red, for example but like 16 in blue.. it just appears that more states are voting for republican candidate. than those voting for democratic candidate in 2020.. I just dont quite understand the concept.

    • Replier says:

      Each state is assigned a number of electoral votes. 55 to California, 38 to Texas and so on. Some states are worth more electoral votes than others ( as little as 3 in some states, and as much as 55 in California). the winner is decided by who won the most electoral votes (not the number of states or population votes per se)

    • Charles Bustamante says:

      Population density is important.

    • George says:

      Except for the 2 electoral votes representing each state’s 2 senators, each electoral vote represents the people within each congressional district in the US, currently the number of people in each district is just over 700,000.
      So an easy way to understand is by comparing the state’s comparative populations, rather than comparative land mass.

      The extreme example:
      Both Alaska and the District of Columbia each have 3 electoral votes.
      Alaska is roughly 10,000 times the size of D.C.
      People are doing the voting, not the acreage.

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