Fun with the Electoral Map

Tomorrow (9 October 2016) is the second presidential debate, at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. It will be co-moderated by Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper. It will be a town hall format, with audience members asking some of the questions of the candidates. But rather than prattle on about what may go down, here are some more interesting maps you can make by playing around at 270towin.com.

In general, the goal is to get above 270, but as close as possible to it, while obeying some other rule or rules.

Non-contiguous states

Shows non-touching states adding up to victory

Maybe Trump or Clinton will decide that straightforward victory is too simple, and they will seek to win the 272 votes of these 18 states that do not touch each other. Alaska and Hawaii are freebies, and naturally you pick the biggest prizes first (California, Texas, New York, and Florida), but after that you have to make some choices to make it happen.

Complete the circuit

Shows loop of states adding up to victory

The rest of the country is lava (or just toxic from all the negative campaigning), but you can still get around without visiting it. Each state in this map touches exactly two other states that voted the same way, creating a circuit of 271 votes from 20 states. While still possible without Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I don’t believe you can get this close to 270 without it. You can substitute Wyoming for Montana, if you care to.

East-West split

Shows all states up to Michigan for one party

Divided government? How about a divided country. Roughly half of the population of the country lives east of the Mississippi River. So going east-to-west, you can win everything shy of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Mississippi and attain a narrow victory. It’s 28 states (plus DC) for 272 votes.

Big states rule

Shows physically-largest states selected

There’s so much room for government activities. 24 states for 277 EVs in the states with the largest land area. Due to the way our country developed, most of the big states are out west.

Full states rule

Shows population-largest states selected

The minimum states to win, 11, coming in at a clean 270 votes.

An odd victory

Shows states with an odd number of electoral votes selected

By happenstance these 25 states (plus DC) that have odd numbers of electoral votes add up to a victory of 272 votes.

Alphabetical states

Shows states selected alphabetically

All the states from A-for-Alabama to M-for-Mississippi (but not M-for-Montana or M-for-Missouri), it takes 24 states alphabetically to earn 272 votes.

By their order of admission to the union

Shows states selected chronologically

All 26 of the states admitted up to Michigan (1837) gives you a vote count of 285. Washington, DC, was founded in 1791, but not given votes for nearly 200 years, so it doesn’t count here.


It’s fun to play around with the electoral vote maps, even though one has to delve deep into the imagination to come up with scenarios to match these maps (a constitutional amendment that changes the order of the alphabet, or a bunch of states becoming lava).

If you come up with an interesting map, feel free to leave a comment.