Explaining the Electoral College

Contrary to popular belief, overwhelming popularity does not guarantee a victory for a particular candidate, as the institution known as the Electoral College officially determines the U.S. President and Vice President.

The Electoral College was established in the 18th century. Each state is allotted as many electoral votes as they have congressional representatives, which are determined by population, as well as two additional votes for each state. 

There are currently 538 electoral votes, so at least 270 electoral votes are required for a particular candidate to win the presidency. 

Most states have a winner-take-all system and  the candidate who wins a majority in each state recieves all the electoral college votes for that state.

There is often controversy with this system come election time, as there have been cases in which popular consensus has been "overruled" by Electoral College voting. 

Controversy also arises because the system often leaves the fate of the election in the hands of "undecided" states, also known as swing states, causing candidates to campaign more vigorously in these states. 

The 2012 presidential election was no different, as both candidates strategized that the presidency would come down to swing states such as Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.

This proved to be the case as President Barack Obama won all of these swing states, with the exception of North Carolina, leading to his re-election. 

Obama also took crucial states such as California, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, all of which are allotted a large amount of Electoral College votes. Romney primarily won less-heavily populated Mid-West states.

The Electoral College seemed to reflect the overall pulse of the people in this election. According to the Huffington Post, Obama won the popular vote 50.1 percent to Gov. Mitt Romney's 48.4 percent.