2016 Election Map: Here's How Many Points Each State Gets in Electoral College

2016 Election Map: Here's How Many Points Each State Gets in Electoral College

The electoral college is a difficult thing to wrap one's head around. Although Americans like to think that they directly, democratically elect their presidents, the job is actually done, as ABC News explains, by electors: people whom each state's Democratic and Republican parties select, who support their respective candidates and are not on the federal government's payroll. 

Electors' votes technically decide the outcome of each election, but our votes do matter: Generally, the party whose candidate wins the popular vote within a state wins all of that state's electors, who then cast their votes for the party's candidate. Whoever gets the most electoral votes gets the Oval Office, having been elected — indirectly, but still democratically — by his or her constituents.

Joint session of Congress counts the electoral votes from the 2012 presidential election.  Alex Wong/Getty Images

538 electoral votes are cast at every election, so a candidate needs 270 to secure a majority. The number of electoral votes each state gets is ultimately based on population: "Each state is allocated a number of electors equal to the number of its U.S. senators plus the number of its U.S. representatives," according to ABC News. So the more densely populated states — like California, for example — are especially valuable, along with the so-called swing states.

Using the 270toWin.com map tool, here's a break down of each state's electoral voting power for the 2016 election, based on a forecast by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report:

The United States colored by likelihood to vote red or blue. Tan states are currently toss-ups.  Mic/270toWin.com