Using Big Data, 2016 Presidential Election


It’s true, we love Big Data!

Having tools that can discover information within Big Data allows interesting information to surface. Using Hadoop and Spark Analytic frameworks on data from 20 years of presidential elections, (1992 – 2012), allowed a number of questions to be asked. The answers proved enlightening.

For our international friends, Presidents are not elected by popular vote. It takes 270 Electoral College votes (or more) to be elected president of the USA.

A presidential candidate must win enough state elections to gain a majority of electoral votes. Presidential campaigns focus on winning state electoral votes. At a minimum each state gets three electoral votes. Given the population within a state, the state receives ‘N’ number of Electoral College votes. In addition, the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) receives three electoral votes, making a total of 538 available electoral votes.

The popular vote within a state “usually” causes all the electoral votes for a state to go to a candidate for president. However, States may or may not require their electors to vote with the popular majority, and they may or may not give all of their electoral votes to the winner of the statewide popular vote.

The National Archives provides a great deal of information about the electoral process, including data from elections and answers to Frequently Asked Questions. For a full explanation of the process, please read the procedural guide to the electoral college and the answers to frequently asked questions. Additional information on elector requirements within states can be found at State Laws and Requirements for electors. Vote Smart offers a detailed explanation of the electoral process. The ultimate source is the U.S. Constitution itself – Article 2, Section 1 and Amendment XII.

Some Interesting facts gathered from prior election data

  • 43 of 50 states with rare exception, vote Republican or Democratic (based on 52 years of election data from 1960 to 2012)
  • This trend has held true (with few exceptions) over the past 13 presidential elections
  • Presidential elections appear to be won (again, with minor exceptions) based on the electoral voting of seven states (swing states) that do not follow a consistent voting pattern.
  • The current swing states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia.

If history is any indication of the future (sometimes it’s not), and  Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia vote as 2016 primary data indicates,  the currently unknown direction of New Hampshire will decide the next president of the USA.

Before you start placing bets on who will win the 2016 election

  • If either candidate is able to win states outside of prior data patterns, the voting in New Hampshire would become less relevant to the election.
  • For example,
    • if Mr. Trump wins expected Republican states, and wins normally Democratic state(s) and/or any combination of the seven swing states (noted above) that provides 66 electoral votes, this would win the election.
  • Or,
    • if Secretary Clinton, wins expected Democratic states, and wins normally Republican state(s) and / or any combination of the seven swing states (noted above) that offers 23 electoral votes, this would win the election.
Candidate 270 (needed to win)
Clinton 266 (total based on projected state wins without New Hampshire)
Trump 268 (total based on projected state wins without New Hampshire)


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