why does ND have 3 and calif have so many? is it based on population?
[Update: I need to clarify. This is not Jerome's question. It is a question sent to Jerome. I don't know if Jerome has been following the election closely enough to know that we're even having one.]
I assume you're talking about electoral votes. It's one of the few Constitutional things we're actually still doing. It's based on average IQ of the citizens of the state.
No, wait, if that were the case Texas wouldn't get any.
Here's the real answer. "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress . . ." U.S. Const. Art. II Sec. 1. That means we here in North Dakota get two senators and our lone representative, or a total of three. Alaska, with two senators and one house member, also gets three. California, with two senators and something like 53 house districts gets 55. Fifty-three house districts! I don't think we even have fifty-three politicians!
In one sense we have more influence over the presidency than most states we do. Our vote is slightly more influential than that of a New Yorker, a Californian, or a Texan.
But in the real world, none of the above make a damn bit of difference. Alaska, Texas and North Dakota are going for Romney. New York and California are going for Obama. Once you get to the point that the votes from your state are a foregone conclusion, voters in your state are irrelevant. That's why you ought to talk all your friends in North Dakota or Montana into voting for Obama. Maybe we can make the election close enough that the presidential candidates can drop by here, if only to pick up checks from a bunch of fat cat donors. If you've got any friends over in Minnesota, tell them to vote for Romney. As it stands, we're all taken for granted, while those lucky stiffs in Ohio, Florida, Colorado, and Virginia are bombarded night and day with advertisements, phone calls, door knockers, flyers attached to windshields, free food and liquor, and promises of piles of pork that they'll never really see.
This year if you want to vote in the presidential election, you need to be in one of the eight or so "swing states." If you really want your vote to matter you need to be in Ohio. Because of the mathematics, if either candidate is going to win, he almost has to get Ohio's 18 electoral votes. Romney's got to get almost all the remaining swing states if he loses Ohio (maybe he could still lose Nevada and New Mexico and squeak by). If Obama loses Ohio, there are a few improbable ways he could squeak out victory with most other swing states.
Now watch our schizophrenic electorate prove me wrong.
Obama has more electoral votes "spoken for" at this time. That is, there are more electoral votes in states that will pretty much certainly go for Obama than in states that will pretty much certainly go for Romney. But that mathematics is meaningless since Ohio's still in play. Although there are bizarre configurations that would make it possible for the winner to lose Ohio and still get the most electoral votes, for the most part whoever wins Ohio wins the presidential race.