Originally Posted by fastrt6dakota
That's half correct. We vote on the members of the electoral college. Once the popular vote is determined, the "winner" of each state receives the votes from the delegates in that state. For example, Michigan has 17 delegates. If McCain were to have the popular vote in Michigan, all 17 delegates automatically vote for McCain in the electoral college. Most states are "all or nothing" in that ALL delegates go towards the popular vote, but some are still done on a percentage of total votes. The number of delegates is determined by 2 for each Senator (2 senators per state), combined with one delegate for every representative in the House (MI has 13 currently, based upon population in the state).
It's popular vote, but the battle is won primarily in the larger states. For example, California with it's 55 votes. This is why you can see the popular voting map be primarily one party, but somehow the other party wins.
There is the concept of faithless delegates in the Electoral College. Some states require the delegate to vote for the winner of the popular vote in that state but not all.
It is primarily the wrath of the 2 parties that keep delegates in line as faithless delegates are more likely to be punished by their respective parties/nominee than by state law, and federal laws governing faithless delegates have been struck down by the Supreme Court as the delegates are acting as representatives of the states.
While unlikely, if such a terrible nominee won the general election the Electoral College could simply, not vote them into office.