Nebraska’s county electoral college

This is parroting off of the work of Xenocrypt. If you are not following Xenocrypt on Twitter, you are really missing out on a number of insightful things. Xenocrypt’s work includes a county electoral college system. The idea is that since there is not really an argument that can be made that the President should be elected with the electoral college but the states should not be decided the same way. I am rather sympathetic to the argument, in general, because most of the arguments that I am told for having an electoral college can be easily applied to having every state holding a county level electoral college system. It especially is true in Nebraska. For instance, you do not want candidates to be elected just because of Douglas and Lancaster county (Omaha and Lincoln), right? Just like you do not want a President elected solely because of California and New York.

But the electoral results really change based on how you create such a system. I created a few different electoral colleges for the state. What is important to remember is that Hillary Clinton only received 34% of the vote statewide in Nebraska and Donald Trump received 59.89%. Clinton was only able to win 2 of the 93 counties in the state (Douglas and Lancaster).

Somewhat mirroring the US

The first way that I decided to divide the votes was to try to mirror the electoral college system of the United States. It’s not entirely the same. But most of the small counties in Nebraska receive 1 electoral vote. Then it is based on population from 2,700 people until we reach 80,000 people, then it goes to 1 electoral vote for every 3,000 people until you reach 175,000 people where it is 1 electoral vote for every 4,000 people. This is intended to mirror the divide that we see in larger population states such as California or New York.  It’s not a perfect mirroring of the system, obviously, but it gives us a good approximation. So with this system, we have the following results with 621 electoral votes.

  Donald Trump Hillary Clinton
Electoral votes 373 248
% of electoral votes 60.1 40.0

In this situation, Douglas County which accounts for about 29% of the population of Nebraska makes up roughly 25% of the electoral votes in the state. Lancaster county makes up about 16% of the population of Nebraska and makes up about 15% of the electoral votes. Sarpy County which accounts for 9% of the population is able to account for about 10% of the electoral votes. Seward County which is about 0.9% of the population receives about 1% of the electoral votes awarded. But it is a fairly proportional system, all things considered. The biggest beneficiaries of such a system are smaller counties, just as smaller states are a bigger beneficiary of the US electoral system.

Modified US system

The next system that I looked at would be a modified US system. This system gives counties an electoral vote for every 1,000 people (rounding up). For instance, Dundy County with 1,886 people would receive 2 electoral votes compared to Rock county with 1,443 people would receive 1 electoral vote. All counties with less than 1,000 people receive 1 electoral vote. There is no crazy math to get there the rest of the way. So we have 1,882 electoral votes overall, with the following result.

  Donald Trump Hillary Clinton
Electoral votes 1037 845
% of electoral votes 55.1 44.9

In such a system, Douglas County accounts for 29% of the vote and 29% of the electoral votes, Lancaster receives 16% of the electoral votes for 16% of the population. Rural areas such as Arthur County with 0.02% of the population receive 0.05% of the electoral votes. This is a much more proportional system, overall. The counties are better represented in the electoral college. But the overall election is a lot closer than what the election with a statewide result seems to indicate. Is that a problem that we should be considering?

Even split

So this is a  little bit difficult to explain. The way I calculated the number of electoral votes per county is by taking the lowest population county and using that population number as the benchmark to calculate the total number of electoral votes. So, for instance, Lancaster which has a population of 301,795 would receive 666 electoral votes. Arthur County would receive 1 electoral vote. There is a total of 4,151 electoral votes in such a system. This is how the 2016 results would look.

  Donald Trump Hillary Clinton
Electoral votes 2286 1865
% of electoral votes 55.1 44.9

This is a very similar result to the modified US system. It is around the same concept so it is not surprising that this is roughly the same result. The counties have roughly the same amount of electoral votes as their population would dictate.

This is somewhat a modified version of a reform that is out there where you have a direct proportional based on how many people are in each congressional district and state.

Direct proportional

This one is probably the easiest to explain. It is just a set percentage of the population by county divided by a set number of electoral votes. I am guaranteeing each county to get at least 2 electoral votes in such a scenario. The final results with 9,864 electoral votes are as follows. Again, we see roughly the same result as we have been seeing

  Donald Trump Hillary Clinton
Electoral votes 5433 4431
% of electoral votes 55.1 44.9


The direct proportional system has the same end results as the even split and the modified US system.

I think if we are to move away from awarding states’ electoral votes away from the popular vote winners in each state either the direct proportional or the even split are probably the best ways to do it.

I’m not really advocating for such a system. I am doing a little bit more research and will do a few more posts with this framework but I did want to introduce it, here.