New Hampshire is a tiny state with about 1.3 million people. California has eight counties with larger populations than that. But in presidential campaigns, size doesn’t matter.
Donald Trump and Barack Obama will be in New Hampshire on Monday. The 39 million residents of California can only watch from afar.
In most political races, candidates spend the most time where they can reap the most votes. In presidential campaigns, however, they often seem to shun any place where large numbers of ballots are cast. California, Texas and New York are the most populous states. But from the number of candidates they’ve seen lately, they might as well be Siberia.
The reason for this weird pattern is a weird institution—the Electoral College, which is what we actually use to choose presidents. Each state has as many votes as it has members of Congress, and 48 states are winner-take-all. Whoever can amass 270 electoral votes becomes president. Steve Chapman breaks down the numbers.