Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald trump by about 4.45 percent points, according to Pew research study Center’s tabulation of last or near-final return from every 50 states and the district of Columbia. Biden received virtually 81.3 million votes, or 51.3% of every votes cast – a record, and much more than 7 million more votes than Trump.

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But once the 538 electors meet Dec. 14 in their particular states to actors the votes that will formally make Biden the president-elect, his margin of win there likely will be greater than his margin in the renowned vote. Barring any defections indigenous so-called “faithless electors,” Biden is on track to obtain 306 electoral votes, or 56.9% that the 538 complete votes available.

Biden’s victory will certainly be nearly identical come Trump’s Electoral College win in 2016, as soon as Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton 304-227 despite receiving 2.8 millionfewerpopular votes. (Two Republican electors and five democratic electors actors “faithless” votes for other people.)

That two such dissimilar elections can generate such similar Electoral college margins illustrates one abiding function of the unified States’ quirky means of choosing its optimal executive: The Electoral College continuously produces an ext lopsided results than the famous vote.


This write-up builds on work Pew Research center did complying with the 2016 presidential election, and a recent analysis of close state elections. Us updated the electoral vote inflation (EVI) evaluation in the 2016 short article with results from this year’s Biden-Trump contest. EVI steps the disparity between the winner’s well-known vote and electoral poll margins.

To recognize the EVI, we an initial tabulated the votes actors in all 50 states and the ar of Columbia, as reported by each jurisdiction’s chief election authority, to identify the popular vote margin. (In one state, because that which no official 2020 results have yet been posted, we relied ~ above The Washington Post’s poll tracker.)

For every election, us then calculate the share of all easily accessible Electoral university votes actually actors for every candidate. By splitting the winning electoral vote margin through the winning well-known vote margin, we came down on the EVI.


Looking earlier at every presidential election since 1828 (when they started to resemble today’s system), the winner’s electoral vote share has, on average, to be 1.36 times his popular vote re-publishing – what we speak to the electoral vote inflation (EVI) factor.


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The larger the EVI, the higher the disparity between the winner’s well-known vote and also electoral poll margins; the smaller the EVI, the closer the 2 margins are to every other. Based on the reported popular vote come date and the meant vote in the Electoral College, Biden’s EVI is 1.11 – smaller, in fact, than Trump’s in 2016 (1.23), and also the smallest since George W. Bush’s two victories in 2000 and 2004 (1.05 both times).

The EVI factor arises from two rules governing the Electoral college – one laid under in the Constitution and also one that’s come to be standard practice over the decades. Under the Constitution, every state gets one electoral vote for each senator and representative it has in Congress. Since every state, no matter how huge or exactly how small, gets 2 senators, little states have higher weight in the Electoral College 보다 they would based on their population alone.

Second, all yet two claims use a plurality winner-take-all mechanism to award your presidential electors – anyone receives the many votes in a state wins every its electoral votes. To win a state by 33 percent points, as Biden walk in Massachusetts, doesn’t gain you any closer to the White house than winning the by 0.3 point out (as Biden did in Arizona).

In contrast, consider the two says that don’t use winner-take-all, Maine and also Nebraska. In those states, candidates acquire two electoral votes for winning the statewide poll plus one because that each congressional ar they win.

In Maine this year, Biden winner 53.1% the the statewide vote and also one of its two congressional districts, for this reason he got 75% of Maine’s electoral votes (three out of four), not 100%. In Nebraska, Trump took 58.2% of the statewide vote and also two of 3 congressional districts, for 80% (four the end of five) that the state’s electoral votes. While no really proportional, those results an ext closely reflect the diversity that candidate support within Maine and Nebraska than a winner-take-all system does.

For trump card in 2016 and Biden in 2020, to win a handful of large, winner-take-all says by very close margins proved an essential to their Electoral college victories. In 2016, Trump carried Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and also Wisconsin (total electoral votes: 75) by much less than 2 percentage points each – or a combined total that 190,655 votes the end of much more than 23.3 million actors in those states. This year, Biden carried Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and also Wisconsin (total electoral votes: 57) by that same narrow margin – or a combined total of 124,364 votes out of 18.6 million cast.

The best disparity between the winning electoral and also popular votes, v an EVI of 1.96, remained in 1912 in the four-way slugfest between Democrat Woodrow Wilson, Republican incumbent wilhelm Howard Taft, gradual Theodore Roosevelt (who had actually bolted from the Republicans) and also Socialist Eugene V. Debs. Wilson won a whopping 82% the the electoral votes – 435 the end of 531 – with less than 42% of the overall popular vote. In fact, Wilson won famous vote majorities in just 11 of the 40 claims he carried – every in what to be then the solidly democratic South.

The following biggest space was the 1980 “Reagan landslide.” In the three-way contest, Ronald Reagan took simply under 51% of the famous vote, come Jimmy Carter’s 41% and also independent john Anderson’s 6.6%. However Reagan soared past Carter in the Electoral College: 489 electoral votes (91% of the total) to 49, because that an EV inflation variable of 1.79.

Many that the elections with the most-inflated electoral votes featured prominent third-party candidates who held down the winners’ popular vote share without being significant Electoral College players themselves. On the various other hand, once the 2 major-party nominees ran reasonably evenly and also there to be no notable independents or third parties, the Electoral college vote has tended come be much closer to the popular tally.

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Defenders of the Electoral college argue the the EVI is a feature, no a bug. Together one observer wrote around the 1968 election, the system’s stamin is in “delivering a clear, incontrovertible national decision indigenous a messy and also angry (and violent) campaign year.”

But numerous Americans favor transforming the way we elect our presidents. A Pew Research center survey from this previous January uncovered that 58% the U.S. Adults favored amending the constitution so the presidential candidate that receives the most famous votes nationwide wins; 40% wanted keeping the present system.