What is the winner-take-all system?

Answer

The winner-take-all system is a method of electoral calculation in which the winner of the majority or plurality of popular votes, depending upon the state, in an election receives all of the Electoral College votes that Congress allocates to each state. The United States employs this method in 48 out of 50 states to determine the allocation of votes to the Electoral College during a presidential election.

The winner-take-all system means that even if a candidate gets a slim majority of the popular votes in a state, all of the Electoral votes go to that particular candidate. The popular vote does not directly decide the outcome of a presidential election. Instead, the first candidate to 270 Electoral College votes wins the election. In this system, a candidate needs to determine election strategy upon winning the majority of a specific set of states in order to win the contest, rather than a portion of the total popular vote.

Each state has a specific procedure for the allocation of votes in case no candidate receives a majority or plurality of the votes. In many cases, a run-off election during a special election period occurs for the top two candidates to determine the winner. However, this is a very rare occurrence.

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