When you vote, you don’t elect the president: You tell your state’s electoral-college electors how to vote. In most states, all electors vote with the state’s popular opinion. If 51 percent of voters in California choose Hillary Clinton, all 55 of California’s electors will vote for Clinton — and none will vote for Donald Trump.
(Historically, a few so-called faithless electors have voted against popular opinion. They never changed the outcome of an election, so we don’t model them.)
We simulated a Nov. 8 election 10 million times using our state-by-state averages. In 8.4 million simulations, Hillary Clinton ended up with at least 270 electoral votes. Therefore, we say Clinton has a 83.6 percent chance of becoming president.
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