Americans Would Swap Electoral College for Popular Vote
Americans Would Swap Electoral College for Popular Vote.
Nearly 11 years after the 2000 presidential election brought the idiosyncrasies of the United States’ Electoral College into full view, 62% of Americans say they would amend the U.S. Constitution to replace that system for electing presidents with a popular vote system. Barely a third, 35%, say they would keep the Electoral College.
Gallup’s initial measure of support for the Electoral College with this wording was conducted in the first few days after the 2000 presidential election in which the winner remained undeclared pending a recount in Florida. At that time, it was already clear that Democratic candidate Al Gore had won the national popular vote over Republican George W. Bush, but that the winner of the election would be the one who received Florida’s 25 Electoral College votes.
During this period, Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to favor replacing the Electoral College system with a popular vote system. In a Gallup poll conducted Dec. 15-17 — shortly after the Dec. 12 Supreme Court decision that ended the Florida recount, thereby deciding the election in Bush’s favor — 75% of Democrats said they would amend the Constitution so that the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide wins. By contrast, 56% of Republicans favored keeping the Electoral College, while 41% favored replacing it with a popular vote system.
From 1967 through 1980, Gallup periodically asked Americans about replacing the Electoral College with a popular vote system using different question wording, and each time, the majority favored it. The issue was particularly relevant during this period because the popular vote in the 1968 and 1976 presidential elections was so closely divided.
With 62% of Americans today in favor of abolishing the Electoral College, Americans show relatively little attachment to this unique invention of the country’s Founding Fathers. The system was devised as a compromise between those who wanted Congress to select the president and those who favored election by the people, and it has resulted in a highly state-based approach to presidential campaigning.
NeilS — I guess the bottom line is that Americans have generally favored replacing the Electoral College system with a popular vote for the better part of the last 50 years. Unsurprisingly, nothing has been done about this. Yet, in a time when much about our country is in flux, maybe there is a window of opportunity to change this arcane system to something mroe representative of the “internet age.” With information travelling around the world in the blink of an eye, I think it is about time we truly handed the power of the democracy to the people and let them choose their president.