Mike Sheppard of Michigan State has a wonderful page that answers the question: For each US Presidential Election, how few votes needed to change in order to reverse the result? Most of us remember that in Bush-Gore 2000, just a few hundred Floridians needed to change their vote (269 by the official count: I won’t get into the controversy on what the real number is (or even its sign!)) in order to give Florida to Gore who would then win the election. But I hadn’t known that in 1976, Ford would have beaten Carter if just 9246 people (in Ohio and Hawaii) changed their vote! The most one-sided election? McGovern would have needed more than 3 million vote changes to beat Nixon in 1972.
Why is this operations research? The question of which states need to switch is nicely modeled in integer programming, so this problem makes a nice (minor) modeling challenge.
You can also check out Mike’s use of linear programming to eat at McDonalds.
Tip of the hat to Greg Fulco for the pointer.