What If the Super Bowl Worked Like the Electoral College?

by Mat Hostetler

A friend recently tried to defend the electoral college to me by citing a World Series from the 1960’s. He pointed out the losing team scored far more runs over the course of the series, but lost the series, because the rules are that you have to win the most GAMES to win the World Series. It was an interesting analogy, except that we don’t vote for the person who wins 4 out of seven elections. There’s only one election. So I decided to test this idea against the most popular single sporting event in the world. The Super Bowl. There are fifty to choose from, and for this exercise, I chose Super Bowl XLV, played in 2011 between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.

(Loosely) following the model of the electoral college, the only thing that matters is to win each quarter, thereby winning the predetermined points (we’ll call them votes) awarded for that quarter. Maybe not a perfect analogy, but let’s see how it plays out.

 1st Quarter:

Both teams come into this Super Bowl with championship pedigrees, each with rich histories, multiple previous championships and rabid and historic fan bases. Green Bay dominates early, striking first and then scoring again resulting in a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Therefore, all 5 of the first quarter’s electoral votes will be awarded to the Green Bay Packers.

 2nd Quarter:

The Packers continue to dominate, going up 21-3. But the Steelers strike just before halftime, making the halftime score 21-10 in favor of Green Bay. However, since the Steelers scored the most points in the second quarter, they are allocated all of the second quarter’s electoral votes. Also, based the previous year’s Super Bowl Nielson ratings, it’s determined that fewer people watch the second and third quarters, so to account for that discrepancy and not give unfair weight to the first and fourth quarters, the second and third quarters will each be worth slightly more (In the actual electoral college, the math shakes out so that the 4% of the population in the smallest states are allotted 8% of electoral college votes). So the 6 electoral votes for the second quarter go to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

 3rd Quarter:

The Steelers continue to tighten things up, scoring again and holding the Packers scoreless. At the end of the third, it’s Green Bay 21 Pittsburgh 17. But since the Steelers won the third quarter, they’re awarded the third quarter’s 6 electoral votes.

 4th Quarter:

This one is a real barn burner as Green Bay and Pittsburgh each score another touchdown and with the Steelers adding a two point conversion, the score late in the fourth is 28-25 in favor of Green Bay. The Packers are able to grab those much needed 5 fourth quarter electoral votes, however, by adding a field goal giving them 10 fourth quarter points to Pittsburgh’s 8, and a final score of 31-25. It’s to no avail, though, as Pittsburgh wins the game based on securing the most electoral votes.

Final Electoral College Super Bowl Score:  

Pittsburgh 12 Green Bay 10.

Packers fans are furious, given that Green Bay NEVER TRAILED IN THE GAME, and Steelers fans tell them to suck it, because those are the rules.

But wait, it’s not over yet. The electoral college still has to actually vote for the winner a month after the Super Bowl. The Steelers appoint their 12 fans and the Packers appoint their 10. There’s some last minute drama as one of the Steelers electors, disgusted by the whole system changes his vote to the Packers, because there’s nothing preventing him from doing so, and Pittsburgh narrowly holds on to claim the Vince Lombardi trophy for the Steel City by a final tally of 12-11.

In reality, The Green Pay Packers won Super Bowl XLV, because they, you know, scored the most points.

Electoral Votes     (5) (6)  (6) (5)  =  22

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