# 2380: Election Impact Score Sheet

 Election Impact Score Sheet Title text: You might think most people you know are reliable voters, or that your nudge won't convince them, and you will usually be right. But some small but significant percentage of the time, you'll be wrong, and that's why this works.

## Explanation

This comic was published the day before Election day in the United States (November 3, 2020), which features a contentious presidential election between the incumbent, President Donald Trump, and the challenger, former Vice President (now current President) Joe Biden. The United States does not elect presidents by popular vote, but instead uses an electoral college system, with each state getting a predetermined number of electoral votes, and a majority of electoral votes needed to win an election. The previous presidential election in 2016, which involved Trump and Hillary Clinton, was won by Trump, who lost the popular vote by 2 percentage points, but won the electoral vote 304-227 (270 was needed to win the election).

Electoral college votes are distributed based on the number of congressional representatives of each state, with the most populous state, California, receiving 55 votes, and the least populous states which are Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming receiving 3 votes each, along with the District of Columbia, which as of the writing of this comic was not a state. Because the United States Congress has two legislative houses, with only one (the House of Representatives) apportioning representatives to the states based on their percentage of the US population and the other (the Senate) allocating two senators to every state regardless of population, smaller states have a higher ratio of electoral college votes to population than larger states do.

Additionally, most states (all but Nebraska and Maine) give all of their electoral college votes to whoever earns the most votes in their state. This means that a small change in the percentage of voters who favor one party's candidate over another within a state doesn't make a difference on the final outcome unless that change tips the scales between the two candidates. Therefore, it's easy to predict the final electoral college votes of many states where one party has a clear lead. Other states, including some of the ones listed by Randall, are considered "swing states", as they are competitive to both of the two major parties, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

Together, these factors make voting in some states - "swing states" with smaller populations - much more likely to influence the outcome of the election than others. Randall in this comic is encouraging his readers to "get out the vote" and encourage voting among their friends and family who live in these nineteen states which are most likely to affect the outcome of the election. The rest of the 31 states (and, presumably, the District of Columbia) are grouped under the "all other states" bucket, presumably as their election outcome is "safely" for Biden or Trump.

Per many analysts, the state of Pennsylvania is considered an absolute necessity for Trump, and considered very important for Biden. This is why Pennsylvania is weighted the most heavily in Randall's comic.

Of course, just because a state may be a clear win for one party does not mean the votes of anyone who votes for the other party are wasted. A higher percentage of voters voting for the losing candidate sends a signal that the state is more competitive than assumed, which forces representatives to compromise and could make future voters more likely to show up because they believe their vote is more likely to matter. Additionally, many "down-ballot" races, like races for governorships, US Congress, state legislatures, and county governments, may be more competitive than the presidential race, and may have just as much or more impact on most people's lives. Randall accounts for some of these local races in deciding how to rank the states on the scoresheet.

The text at the bottom says to post your scoresheet with #Hashtag. The "#" symbol (pronounced "hash") denotes a hashtag on platforms like Twitter, used to tag one's post as relating to the topic named following the symbol. However, this hashtag (said out-loud as "Hashtag Hashtag") would relate a post to the topic of hashtags rather than elections or votes, and so for the scoresheet is nonsensical and doesn't describe anything useful. It also refers to Nate Silver's famous election forecast model at FiveThirtyEight. Randall closes by urging people to contact Nate Silver to tell him to adjust his model to account for the added votes they have caused, but as the form doesn't indicate which candidate the filler has voted for or plans to vote for, never mind the people contacted, there's no way for him to know what sort of update to make. Perhaps the flurry of posts bearing the hashtag "#Hashtag" and indicating an effort to increase civic engagement will be a heartwarming surprise on a day that will probably be very busy and stressful for him.

The title text explains that even if one thinks that their family and friends always vote, or that their reminder to vote won't work, they should do so anyway because of the chance they may be wrong.

As shown in previous comics (1756: I'm With Her and others), Randall was a supporter of 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton (who ran against Trump), but this announcement should be equally applicable to supporters of either of the two main candidates in the current presidential race.

### Table

State Bonus Electoral votes Explanation Actual Effect
Pennsylvania x5 20 Pennsylvania is considered an absolute necessity for Trump, and considered very important for Biden. Pre-election polling showed Biden leading by 3 points. Former Vice President Biden won the state.
Maine x4 4 Maine is worth 4 electoral votes, but awards 2 based on the statewide popular vote and 1 vote each for the winners of its 2 congressional districts. Polls also suggested a competitive Senate race. Former Vice President Biden won the state and the first congressional district; President Trump won the second.

Susan Collins (R) defeated challenger Sara Gideon (D)

Arizona 11 Arizona is not typically a swing state, as it usually votes for the Republican Party candidate. However, it is considered a swing state this year, with Joe Biden leading by 2 percentage points in pre-election polling. Additionally, polls predicted a high likelihood of a Senate seat flipping from the Republicans to Democrats. Former Vice President Biden won the state.

Challenger Kelly (D) defeated Senator McSally (R).

Nevada 6 Nevada has historically been considered a "bellwether" state, with a similar distribution of voters to the nation as a whole. The state went to Clinton in 2016, reflecting the popular vote, while the Electoral College went to Trump. Former Vice President Biden won the state.
Alaska x3 3 President Trump won the state.
Montana 3 Polls showed a possibility of a Senate seat flipping from the Republicans to the Democrats. Senator Daines (R) defeated challenger Bullock (D).
New Mexico 5 Former Vice President Biden won the state.
Wisconsin x2 10 Wisconsin was surprisingly won by Trump in 2016, as pre-election polling had him trailing by 6-7 percentage points. Polling for the 2020 election favored Biden by 7 percentage points. Former Vice President Biden won the state.
Minnesota 10 Minnesota was won by Hillary Clinton in 2016, but by a close margin of 1.5 percentage points. Polling for 2020 has Biden favored by 7 percentage points. Former Vice President Biden won the state.
Iowa 6 Polling showed a very close race between Biden and Trump, as well as a close Senate contest. President Trump won the state.

Joni Ernst (R) defeated challenger Theresa Greenfield (D)

North Carolina 15 North Carolina is not typically a swing state, as it usually votes for the Republican Party candidate. However, it is considered a swing state this year. There is also a close Senate contest. President Trump won the state.

Thom Tillis (R) defeated challenger Cal Cunningham (D)

New Hampshire 4 Former Vice President Biden won the state.
Georgia 16 Georgia is not typically a swing state, as it usually votes for the Republican Party candidate. However, it is considered a swing state this year. Additionally, it has two Senate seats up for grabs in very close races (one the normal one for the year, the other a special election to fill a vacancy). Former Vice President Biden won the state. Both Senate races were undecided and headed to runoff elections won by Democrats. These runoff elections were mentioned in the title text of 2382: Ballot Tracker Tracker.
Nebraska 5 Like Maine, Nebraska splits up its votes, awarding 2 votes to the winner of the statewide popular vote, and 1 each for the winners of its 3 congressional districts. President Trump won the state and the first and third congressional districts; former Vice President Biden won the second.
Michigan x1 16 Michigan was also surprisingly won by Trump in 2016, as he was also trailing in pre-election polling. Biden has a 6 point lead in polling in 2020. Former Vice President Biden won the state.
Florida 29 With 29 electoral votes, Florida has the 3rd most electoral votes to be distributed. It is also typically a swing state and sometimes determines the winner of an election. President Trump won the state.
Kansas 6 President Trump won the state.
Mississippi 6 President Trump won the state.
Colorado 9 Former Vice President Biden won the state.
All other states x1/2 varies Randall considers other states as less important than the above nineteen in influencing the outcome of the presidential election. See below

As for all other states: President Trump won Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming; while former Vice President won California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington.

## Transcript

Do you know anyone in Arizona?

Research shows that reminders from friends and family to vote have a bigger effect on turnout than anything campaigns do.

One of the best ways you can help is to scroll through your contacts (or use apps like VoteWithMe) to find people you can check in with to see if they plan to vote or need help doing it.

This chart lets you tally the effect of your reminders on the outcome based on who you've contacted and where they live.

Election impact score sheet

State Check-ins Bonus* Points
Pennsylvania x5
Maine
Arizona
x4
Montana
New Mexico
x3
Wisconsin
Minnesota
Iowa
North Carolina
New Hampshire
Georgia
x2
Michigan
Florida
Kansas
Mississippi
x1
All other states

*Multiplier based on 538 presidential vote impact, plus points for senate and local elections

In smaller text, to the right of the main score sheet, a duplicate of the score sheet with red tally marks and points is shown

State Check-ins Bonus* Points
Pennsylvania (2 tally marks) x5 10
Maine
Arizona
(1 tally mark) x4 4
Montana
New Mexico
(1 tally mark) x3 3
Wisconsin
Minnesota
Iowa
North Carolina
New Hampshire
Georgia
(3 tally marks) x2 6
Michigan
Florida
Kansas
Mississippi
x1
All other states (6 tally marks) 3

Followed by an arrow, pointing to the "Your election impact" total box in the main table, is this text

Based on turnout experiments, 10 points on this scale has roughly as much effect on the outcome as one average vote.
For every 10 points you tally, it's as if you voted again!

Below the main score sheet table

[Click for printable version]

Share a pic of your score sheet with #Hashtag, and be sure to send a copy to Nate Silver to let him know to include those extra votes in his model!

# Discussion

Please vote, everyone! #Hashtag. (Unsigned. Whoever you are.)

Cool, how to convince citizens of other countries to vote for this shitsotrm?

I always told myself that if I ever joined Twitter (rather than 'browse-lurked' the feeds of people of interest, as I do now) I would use #hashtag a lot, and other ironic self-referential things in order to stop myself taking it too seriously. Nice to know I'm on the same wavelength with Randall, but now I must further delay my inevitable signing up until I've got something newer and better in mind! 162.158.158.61 00:06, 3 November 2020 (UTC)

This "as if you voted again!" should not be confused with the stuff that Trump keeps yammering about. :-) BunsenH (talk) 02:44, 3 November 2020 (UTC)

Why is Alaska four points?? 162.158.62.79 03:20, 3 November 2020 (UTC)

Alaska is only three, but who knows, it's not a close race there according to 538. They also have higher than average voter turnout too.

172.69.42.92 03:37, 3 November 2020 (UTC)

Not sure. However, according to [wikipedia] they have the 3rd lowest population per electoral vote ratio (of the proper states), meaning that an alaskan vote in theory counts more than a texan one (which has the highest ratio). But don't ask me. I am a European with no big clue about that complicated US election system. --Lupo (talk) 06:29, 3 November 2020 (UTC)
That's ok, I'm not convinced most Americans understand it either. But then, I don't understand why so many Americans think that compulsory voting is un-democratic - particularly compared to a situation where those in power get to deliberately interfere with voters' ability to vote at all. Paddles (talk) 13:23, 3 November 2020 (UTC)

It seems that "538" is a reference to https://fivethirtyeight.com which seems to be a USA election news aggregation website. 108.162.216.80 07:30, 3 November 2020 (UTC)

0h, and on a second look 538 is mentioned.108.162.216.80 07:38, 3 November 2020 (UTC)
Uhm 538 is the number of electors in the United States electoral college, which FiveThirtyEight is named after, so it is not a reference to that program. But the note about Nate Silver of course is about him and his website. --Kynde (talk) 13:22, 3 November 2020 (UTC)

I don't know if Randall knew about or intended the reference, but there is a website http://hashtaghashtag.org/, describing itself as "#Hashtag is dedicated to political analysis and long-form opinion pieces on politics and public policy." Or maybe he just wanted to be a smart-ass with the #Hastag. Bischoff (talk) 07:47, 3 November 2020 (UTC)

Before "Hashtag" existed, "#' was sometimes just called "hash". Once it was combined with a word (e.g. "#blart") and use to tag things like tweets, the combined unit was called a "hashtag" (i.e. a tag containing a hash symbol). At some point "#blart" changed from being read as "hash blart" (essentially reading the individual symbols that make it up) to "hashtag blart" (the meaning of the combined symbols), sort of how "\$10" is read as "ten dollars" rather than "dollar-sign ten". But then taking the reading "hashtag blart" and back-applying it to the text "#blart" has produced the use of the term "hashtag" for the "#" symbol. Hopefully this won't go around the circle again and make "hashtagtags".

Really, though, '#' is still just called "hash". The "-tag" part refers to the whole string making up a topic description tag for the comment/tweet/blurb/whatever. "Hashtag" refers to a tag denoted by a hash symbol, and "#hashtag" prompts the system to link the user to other tweets by people discussing adding semantic meaning to user-generated text. Great for those of us who are super into text markup and metadata (though really, who isn't?). Kjmitch (talk) 19:01, 4 November 2020 (UTC)

## Printable version

I would argue that the "[Click for printable version]" should be hyperlinked with the link to https://xkcd.com/2380/election_impact_score_sheet.pdf

Let me see if I can do that by myself.

## Added an "Actual Effect" column to the table.

Too early to say much about much, but eventually something like "(Pennsylvania narrowly went for) Trump, but did not stop Biden's win" or "(...) Trump, giving vital EVs to support his second term". Conversely, if it ever flips, what it meant for Biden. - I leave the content open to our future selves to fill in, but I suggest short, snappy and factual only, given the prior column's more wordy vague speculation from ahead of time. 141.101.105.250 15:40, 5 November 2020 (UTC)

## Nate Silver

I wonder how many letters Nate Silver actually got following this comic.