Map of 2016 Electoral College based on a distributed popular vote

The 2016 Presidential election was atypical in ways, not the least of which include the unprecedented disparity between the outcomes in the national popular vote and Electoral College.  But what would happen if, say, Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote were distributed to other parts of the Electoral College map?

[Click image to view full size]

2016 Electoral College, map, infographic, distributed national popular vote, Clinton, Trump

Now, before I go any further, let me be clear. Yes, I know that the Electoral College is specifically designed to avoid scenarios such as the one I just proposed:  i.e., one in which a candidate’s lead in the national popular vote essentially serves as the basis for victory. I get that.  Really.

Nevertheless, visualizing the Electoral College and national popular votes in different ways can be instructive, especially in light of the following:

  • The 2016 election marks just the fourth time in 58 presidential elections that the winner of the Electoral College lost the national popular vote.
  • The results of the election in a number of states defied months of polling data.
  • Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote is approximately 1.9% of all votes cast, nearly four times the 0.5% margin of Al Gore’s popular vote victory over George W. Bush in 2000.
  • If the states Donald Trump won were ranked according to margin of victory, Clinton’s lead in the national popular vote (more than 2.5 million votes) exceeds the combined number of votes by which Trump won in the twelve closest states.
  • Those twelve states represent 191 electoral votes.
  • In the closest three of these states (Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania), the margin of Donald Trump’s victory was especially narrow, ranging from just 0.22% and 0.37% in Michigan and Wisconsin, respectively, to 1.06% in Pennsylvania.
  • If Clinton won these three states – which were decided by a combined total of 97,255 votes, she would have received 278 Electoral College votes, eight more than needed to become President.

Just Browsing: Rethinking Privacy, Piracy & Intellectual Property

This is video of a talk I gave at the first-annual WheaTalks event, a TED Talks-inspired night of bright ideas-in-progress.  In it, I make the case that individuals need and deserve a system of just browsing, that is, browsing that is fair and ethical, and that respects individual privacy.  Corporate rights holders continue to lobby for expansive intellectual property protections, restrict access and use of content, and devise new ways to monetize users’ personal information.  One aspect of these efforts is the tendency of content producers and distributors to conflate privacy with piracy.  As insidious as this is, it is also revealing insofar as it highlights the fact that as user data and personal information become increasingly profitable revenue streams, efforts to restrict companies’ access to that data and information become tantamount — in their minds at least — to a form of theft.   At the end of the talk, I propose a somewhat common-sense (read: impossibly utopian) solution to this stand-off.