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Electoral votes are the crux of any presidential campaign. Each state is assigned electoral votes based on its population (technically, one for each senator and congressperson) from a minimum of three in rural states to a whopping 55 for California. Winning the popular vote in a state wins all of its electoral votes. With 538 total electoral votes nationwide, a candidate must secure a majority of 270 or more to win the election.
The most important thing to remember is that, for a candidate to win, their main focus has to be on the number of Electoral Votes brought in on election night, not on the nationwide popular vote. There have been several instances in history where a candidate will win the popular vote, but technically lose, because they failed to overcome the electoral goal. This is a common occurrence in The Political Machine -- for instance, when one candidate focuses on narrowly winning enough states to reach 270+ electoral votes while losing the rest in a landslide.
When a campaign is in its infancy, it's vital for those running to examine the map in its 'Electoral Votes' view. Here, candidates will see the states ranging in color from bright purple to grey. The brighter the state is, the more electoral votes, and the more important that state is to win. As the game progresses, keep an eye on the 'Polling Data' view to see where the polls in each state stand -- blue for Democratic-leaning states, red for Republican-leaning ones, pink for "swing" states that are too close to call, and grey for states without enough data to make a call. The status of the states change weekly in response to endorsements, ads, operatives, and other campaign events.
A 'Political Strategy' map mode is available to all candidates during the election cycle. When in this mode, states can be clicked to toggle them red or blue with an accompanying electoral vote estimate, helping to strategize which states are necessary to emerge victorious.