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Electoral College: Which Candidate Will Win?

To win the presidency, a candidate must get 270 votes.

In the United States, the presidential election is decided by Electoral College votes.

In total, there are 538 electoral votes in play. The votes are typically allocated on an all-or-none basis, meaning the candidate that wins the popular vote in a given state also wins that state's electoral votes.

Each state is allocated a number of electors equal to the the number of people in that state's congressional delegation (the number of congressmen plus the two senators from each state). The District of Columbia is allocated three electors.

When you vote in the Nov. 6 presidential election, you are actually voting for your candidate's electors. Read more about the Electoral College process here and/or watch the video.

Based on current polling, the outcome is all but certain in many states. For instance, the majority of voters in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina are expected to support Republican candidate Mitt Romney while the majority of voters in California, New York and Illinois will likely vote for the President Barack Obama. However, there are several states where the outcome is less clear and it is the voters in those states that will ultimately decide the outcome of the 2012 election.

The site 270 to Win lists 11 states, accounting for a total of 146 electoral votes, as undecided heading into Tuesday's election: Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina and New Hampshire. Real Clear Politics indicates Obama currently has a 201 to 191 lead over Romney in electoral votes. Obama must secure 69 -- or 47 percent -- of the remaining 146 Electoral College votes in the undecided states while Romney needs 79 votes or 54 percent.

Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, and Pennsylvania, with its 20, are high stakes races as are Ohio (18) and Michigan (16).

Due to the way the Electoral College process works, it is possible for a candidate to win the popular vote, but lose the election.

According to FactCheck.org, the last time that happened was in 2000 when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by 271 to 266 electoral votes, but lost the popular vote by 540,000. It has also happened three other times: 1824, 1876 and 1888.

Below is a list of the states and the number of electorial votes each has. The top 11 states have a controlling majority. (Provided by Wiki Answers)

California - 55 
Texas - 38 
New York - 29 
Florida - 29 
Illinois - 20 
Pennsylvania - 20 
Ohio - 18 
Michigan - 16 
Georgia - 16 
North Carolina - 15 
New Jersey - 14 
Virginia - 13 
Washington - 12 
Massachusetts - 11 
Indiana - 11 
Tennessee - 11 
Arizona - 11 
Missouri - 10 
Maryland - 10 
Minnesota - 10 
Wisconsin - 10 
Alabama - 9 
Colorado - 9 
South Carolina - 9 
Louisiana - 8 
Kentucky - 8 
Connecticut - 7 
Oklahoma - 7 
Oregon - 7 
Iowa - 6 
Arkansas - 6 
Kansas - 6 
Mississippi - 6 
Nevada - 6 
Utah - 6 
Nebraska - 5 
New Mexico - 5 
West Virginia - 5 
Hawaii - 4 
Idaho - 4 
Maine - 4 
New Hampshire - 4 
Rhode Island - 4 
Alaska - 3 
Delaware - 3 
District Of Columbia - 3 
Montana - 3 
North Dakota - 3 
South Dakota - 3 
Vermont - 3 
Wyoming - 3

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