Hockey and the Electoral College

There are a lot of people that are upset that Hillary Clinton didn’t win the election.    There are a variety of reasons for their “upset” but one of the more valid ones is that she received more votes from registered voters than Trump but still lost the election.  How many more?  About 700,000 at the time of this post which equates to about one quarter of 1%, a very slim margin when you consider that there were more than 121 million votes cast.  Please keep in mind that votes are still being counted but the last time I checked, her lead was increasing not decreasing so if you are hoping for a Trump popular vote miracle it isn’t going to happen.  Currently there are a bunch of incorrect memes circulating through social media claiming that the real truth is that Trump received more popular votes.  Those memes, to be frank, are lies.

Apparently it is very important to people from both sides that the winner of the election be the person who received the most votes from the registered voting population but that’s not how our system works.  We don’t have a direct election where the people choose the president.  We have an indirect election where we choose the people who will then choose the president.  The United States is comprised of 50 semi-countries that we call states, hence the name “United” States.  Each of those semi-countries gets to hold an individual election within their borders to decide who they are going to support for the presidency.  States do not all get the same “say” in who should be president.  Bigger states get more of a “say” than smaller states.  This all takes place through a political device known as the Electoral College in mid-December.  There are 538 members, called electors, of this temporary college and they are chosen on a state by state basis every four years.  Here in Massachusetts, where I live, we have a total “say” of eleven votes and therefore we chose eleven electors when we voted for president.  Trump had 11 electors who represented him in MA and Clinton had the same.  When our state’s popular vote went in favor of Clinton, her electors were elected into the college and Trump’s got the boot.  The same process took place in every state.  If a candidate won the popular vote in that state then their representatives got elected into the Electoral College to eventually cast votes for them.  This is each state’s “say” and it’s based on the size of the state.  California is a massive state so they get a “say” of 55 votes.  The smallest “say” that any state gets is three votes so even the most underpopulated areas of the country get a voice in who should be president.  The system was designed to be fair for the semi-countries, insuring that everyone got a fair “say” in who should be the leader of all, based on size.  So, what does hockey have to do with this?

The 2009 Stanley Cup Finals featured the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Redwings in a best of seven game series.  It took them all seven games to decide the championship.

Game 1:  Detroit 3 Pittsburgh 1
Game 2:  Detroit 3 Pittsburgh 1
Game 3:  Pittsburgh 4 Detroit 2
Game 4:  Pittsburgh 4 Detroit 2
Game 5:  Detroit 5 Pittsburgh 0
Game 6:  Pittsburgh 2 Detroit 1
Game 7:  Pittsburgh 2 Detroit 1

After losing the first two games of the series, Pittsburgh finally prevailed and won the Stanley cup four games to three.  The interesting thing about the 2009 championship is that the losing team, Detroit, actually scored three more goals than the winner over the course of the series.  Pittsburgh scored fewer goals than Detroit, 14 to 17, but they still won the championship.  That doesn’t seem too fair.  This happened because it doesn’t really matter how much you win an individual game by.  You could win by ten goals and it wouldn’t make any more difference than if you won by just one because in the end the series is decided by who wins the most games on a game by game basis.   It’s not the goals that count, it’s the number of games won.  If you understand this about hockey then you understand the Electoral College where the popular vote in each individual state determines who gets the designated electoral votes belonging to that state.  Each vote in a state is like a goal, and each state is like a game.  You could win Massachusetts’s electoral votes by one popular vote or a million, it doesn’t matter.  In the end you get the same number of electoral votes, eleven.

As I stated previously, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by ¼ of 1% but Donald Trump won the Electoral College 306 votes to 232, a margin of about 14%.  Clinton scored more goals but Trump won more games and will therefore become our next President.  It was the twelfth closest presidential election in the history of the nation.  It’s not a perfect system but one that prevents very populated states like California and New York from dominating our politics and turning the United States into a sort of Hunger Games scene where the massive cities become District One and the rest of us exist to serve them at their whim.  If you’ve seen any of those movies, nobody wants that.  (chuckle)


A friend of mine dubbed me “The voice of reason in a very unreasonable world” which I am flattered by because I am less than that.  Having said that, if you enjoyed my writing I invite you to scroll to the very bottom of this page where there is a button labeled “Follow”.   If you press that button you will receive a notification whenever this blog is updated with new posts.  Thank you for reading.  



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