New Delhi: The 2020 US presidential election is 40 days away, and opinion polls point out the Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, has roughly a seven-point lead over US President Donald Trump, the Republican candidate.

Nonetheless, this statistic, which relies on a mean of various opinion polls, solely displays the favored vote and never who will truly win the election that may happen on three November.

The US election works on a winner-takes-all precept, identical to India’s elections. Nonetheless, it doesn’t observe a strictly easy majority formulation, i.e., the candidate with the preferred votes doesn’t essentially win.

The essential deciding issue within the course of is the electoral faculty; the candidate with probably the most ‘electoral’ votes is elected US president.

Up to now, 5 US presidents have received an election regardless of not cornering a majority of the favored vote. In actual fact, within the final election in 2016, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton obtained virtually three million (30 lakh) extra votes than Trump on Election Day, however, misplaced within the electoral faculty.

Because the marketing campaign frenzy runs its remaining leg, right here’s a have a look at how the US election course of works, what the electoral faculty is and the way it determines the election, and likewise the way it varies from India’s first-past-the-post system regardless of each performing on the identical precept.

How the US election course of works

Earlier than People get to the polling sales space or vote by mail for his or her favorite presidential alternative and their working mate (the vice-presidential candidate), events elect their candidates (besides incumbents) by one in every of two processes — primaries and caucuses. You’ll be able to learn extra about these processes right here.


As soon as the Republican and Democratic candidates are nominated, nationwide conventions are held through which the working mates are introduced. Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris, a politician of Indian-Jamaican descent, whereas Trump caught along with his present vice-chairman, Mike Pence.

Following the conventions, the candidates go on tour to drum up a public assist, in addition, to take part in a number of high-profile televised debates to form public opinion.

With all this accomplished, People lastly make an alternative on who they like because of the president of the US for the subsequent 4 years. Nonetheless, that is nonetheless the penultimate stage within the course of. The electoral faculty then votes and the candidate with the bulk turns into the president.

What’s the electoral faculty

Whereas residents solid their poll for a specific candidate, it’s truly the ‘electors’ of the 50 states whose votes determine who turns into the president. Nonetheless, the traits from Election Day decide how electors vote.

Electors are half of a bigger nationwide physique referred to as the electoral faculty. They’re chosen by the events, although the course varies from state to state. In some circumstances, electors are merely appointed by the state occasion committee whereas, in different circumstances, the marketing campaign for the function and are voted in at state occasion conventions.

Electors vote for a candidate primarily based on the favored vote within the state. For instance, if greater than half of the residents in California solid their poll in favor of Biden, all of the state’s electors are certain to solid their vote for Biden.

“You solely need to win a state by one vote to get 100 percent of its electors. The margin doesn’t matter,” stated Dr. Mark J. Rozell, dean of the Schar College of Coverage and Authorities of George Mason College in Virginia, at a digital press briefing on the US Overseas Press Facilities’ election tour Monday.

The exceptions to this are Maine and Nebraska which observe the Congressional District Technique through which one electoral vote is tied to every congressional district within the state and a bonus two electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who secures the state-wide standard vote.

Electors collect in December to ratify the outcomes of the election.

How electoral votes stack up

There are presently 538 electors within the electoral faculty.

The variety of electors for every state in the entire of the variety of representatives within the Home of Representatives, the decrease home, plus the 2 senators within the higher home. (The US has a bicameral legislature identical to India does.)

For instance, California has 53 representatives within the Home and two senators, which supplies it a complete of 55 electoral votes.

To turn out to be president, a candidate must win an easy majority — 270 electoral votes. That is the place the favored vote doesn’t essentially assist a candidate.

In 2016, Trump secured 306 electoral votes whereas Clinton secured solely 232, thus turning into president despite the fact that Clinton received the favored vote by a large margin.

Trump had received many extra states by smaller margins, which meant he secured extra electoral votes, defined by Dr. Rozell. For example, Trump received Pennsylvania by 68,236 votes, Wisconsin by 27,257, and Michigan by 11,837 votes.

Equally, George W. Bush received the 2000 election regardless of Al Gore profitable the favored vote by virtually half 1,000,000. Nonetheless, that 12 months, the presidency was determined by the Supreme Courtroom; disputed votes in a Florida county, in the end, gave Bush a razor-thin lead.

The bigger the state, the extra the variety of representatives, and therefore, extra the variety of electors. For example, California has 55 and Texas 38, whereas North Dakota and Delaware have three every.

How the system compares to India’s first-past-the-post system

When Indians vote in a common or state elections, they vote for a person who will symbolize their constituency in Parliament or the state meet. Not like within the US, an Indian voter is selecting one out of a number of candidates on the poll, every fielded by completely different events. That is the first-past-the-post precept, also called the ‘easy majority’ system. On this system, a candidate doesn’t must obtain greater than half of the votes of their constituency, however reasonably simply greater than their opponents.

For instance, if a candidate secures 30 percent of the votes in a constituency, which is the best vote share, then they safe a seat in Parliament. In the meantime, the remaining 70 percent of the votes are rendered inconsequential since they acquired divided among the many different opponents.

That’s how the BJP, which secured simply 37.6 percent of the vote share within the 2019 common election, secured 303 seats out of 553 in Lok Sabha.