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Reasoning and Critical Thinking Test

On Tuesday, November 4, 2008, the United States held a presidential election with Republican candidate, John McCain, and Democratic candidate, Barack Obama.  Citizens across the United States voted for their favorite candidate.  However, the popular vote does not directly determine the election.  The Electoral vote actually determines the winner.

Every state has the same number of Electors as the sum of its senators and representatives in Congress.  Each state has two senators.  The total number of representatives for all the states is 435.  The number of representatives for each state varies from state to state and is proportional to its population.  Each state has at least one representative. The 23rd Amendment of the Constitution gave the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) three electoral voters since they currently have no senators or representatives.

Because of this structure, presidential elections in the United States are indirect elections; the general public elects people to vote for them.  Winning a majority of the popular vote does not guarantee a candidate is elected President. The candidate must win a simple majority (more than 50%) of the Electoral College vote to become President of the United States.  In all but two of the states, the Electoral vote is based on a “winner takes all” principle—whichever candidate wins a plurality (more votes than anyone else) in the state gets all of that state’s electoral votes.  Maine and Nebraska use the Congressional District System where the winner of a state receives the two additional electoral votes corresponding to the two senators.

The following diagram shows the number of Electoral College voters for each state and how that state voted in the 2008 presidential election.




In your own words, what is the Electoral College?


How many electoral votes are required for a candidate to be elected U.S. President?


Suppose you were running for president and you only had enough money left to hold a rally in one of two states:  Wyoming or Montana.  Both have 3 electoral votes, and both states are red above.  However, Wyoming has a population of 500,000 people while Montana has a population of 900,000 people.  Which state would you choose to campaign in and why?  Please answer in complete sentences.

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