The Economist.com has opened our U.S. Presidential election to the world, at least online. If everyone in the world had a vote, online at the Economist's site, that counted in a worldwide electoral college, who would win--Obama or McCain?
First, they explain our own existing electoral college, a confusing concept to many. Then they explain how they set up the theoretical world electoral college and how they apportioned the votes. Here are those explanations, quoted in full.
America's electoral college
All democratic systems have their quirks, and America's is no exception. The electoral college is a 200-year-old institution. According to its rules, Americans do not vote directly for their presidents. Instead they cast a ballot to decide who wins their state's electoral-college votes. The number of these votes is fixed by the number of people the state sends to Congress, which in turn is based on its population. All states have a minimum of three votes and there are 538 electoral-college votes up for grabs in total. The presidential candidate who secures the most electoral-college votes ends up in the White House. The loser invariably ends up on day-time television shows.
Critics of the electoral-college system say it can produce a president who has lost the popular vote, as happened in 2000. They also complain that the winner-takes-all system employed by most states leads candidates to focus on a small number of "swing states" and ignore more reliably partisan ones. There have consequently been many attempts to reform the electoral-college system—over 700 so far—though until now nobody has suggested that the entire world be included.
The Global Electoral College
The Economist has redrawn the electoral map to give all 195 of the world's countries (including the United States) a say in the election's outcome. As in America, each country has been allocated a minimum of three electoral-college votes with extra votes allocated in proportion to population size. With over 6.5 billion people enfranchised, the result is a much larger electoral college of 9,875 votes. But rally your countrymen—a nation must have at least ten individual votes in order to have its electoral-college votes counted.
There are few countries whose votes in the Global Electoral College are a foregone conclusion. So the winner is unlikely to be decided by a small number of "swing countries". Rather, they will have to cobble together a coalition of small, medium and large nations. (A campaign stop in Beijing is recommended, as well as a tour of Africa.) Voting in the Global Electoral College will close at midnight London time on November 1st, when the candidate with most electoral-college votes will be declared the winner.
Click here to see who is ahead in the worldwide voting.