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Dems, repubs independents agree: get rid of the Electoral College system

By hefty and durable 62-35 percent margin, Americans would like to scrap the Electoral College in favor of a straight popular vote system of electing presidents, according to a fresh Gallup Poll.

Gallup has been asking the question since the aftermath of the 2000 election, when Al Gore won the national popular vote but George W. Bush, with the help of the Supreme Court, became president based on the electoral vote. Since then, there has never been a majority in favor of keeping the electoral vote system, but — for obvious reasons in the aftermath of 2000 — a majority of Republicans used to tell Galup that they preferred keeping the Electoral College system.

Scrapping the Electoral College has always received an overall majority in the Gallup polling but now, for the first time since 2000, a majority of Democrats, independents and even a majority of Republicans favor the change.

Comments (16)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/24/2011 - 03:20 pm.

    Problem is, amending the Constitution requires more than a majority, and this would be a very basic change.
    While the Electoral College has its faults, it’s part of our system of checks and balances limiting the power of majorities (in this case states with large populations).
    It was included for the southern states, and I suspect that they would still favor its retention.
    We’d have to eliminate the filibuster (probably also requiring a super majority) first.

  2. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/24/2011 - 03:23 pm.

    I also wonder how many of the poll respondents would be able to explain what the Electoral College is?

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/24/2011 - 03:25 pm.

    IMO, this is more a clear indication of the creeping ignorance among the public of all things political than it is a mandate.

    When people understand what the Electoral College is, and what purpose it serves, only leftists and fools agree with it’s removal.

    It’s a matter of equal representation.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 10/24/2011 - 03:40 pm.

    “there has never been a majority in favor of keeping the electoral vote system, but — for obvious reasons in the aftermath of 2000 — a majority of Republicans used to tell Galup that they preferred keeping the Electoral College system.”

    The “obvious reasons” for keeping the electoral college system is to keep small states like Iowa, Minnesota et al, relevant.

    If the election was decided on a purely popular vote, presidential campaigns would be run in California, New York, Florida, Ohio, and a few other populous states because the rest of us wouldn’t matter.

    The Founding Fathers knew what they were doing.

  5. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/24/2011 - 04:02 pm.

    BTW, in 1824 Andrew Jackson won the most popular and electoral votes, but with the “help” of the House of Representatives, John Quincy Adams was named President.

    I’ve looked for historical evidence of tear squirting anything approaching that which we’ve seen from the left re: ALGORE, but came up dry.

    Somehow I don’t think the country is really ready to change the US Constitution to just to mollify whiny, or power mongering leftists.

  6. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/24/2011 - 05:04 pm.

    Whining conservatives, on the other hand ……

    And so you agree that leftists should have equal representation with fools?

  7. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/24/2011 - 05:50 pm.

    “And so you agree that leftists should have equal representation with fools?”

    Equal or interchangable, same diff 😉

  8. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 10/24/2011 - 05:58 pm.

    James Michener wrote the classic book “Presidential lottery” advocating the elimination of the Electoral College in favor of the popular election of the President. He did not convince me and neither has Eric.

    However, I would be in favor of returning to the original intent of the constitution, the electing of our U.S. Senators by the State Legislatures.

    Even with the Democrats in control of legislature, they would have spared the State of MN from Al Franken. Also, “do nothing Senator Amy K” would be in real trouble if the legislature had the vote.

  9. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/24/2011 - 06:43 pm.

    Mr. Swift’s concern for equal representation is touching, given his support for a voter ID law that would disenfranchise quite a few Minnesotans, largely poor and / or minority, on the utterly specious grounds of “voter fraud.”

    Still, Swiftian hypocrisy aside, I’m not enthused about doing away with the electoral college. It annoys me every 4 years, it’s true, but unless / until we’re ready to simultaneously adopt a genuine parliamentary system, where the majority party really *does* have a mandate to implement a program, and can’t be blocked by an obstinate minority, and losing a “vote of confidence” can bring down a government at any time, I’m inclined to keep the electoral college, even with its several flaws. And whether I’m inclined to keep it or not, I’ve never seen any convincing evidence that the American public was even the tiniest bit interested in adopting a parliamentary system. That this issue raises its head with every election cycle in recent decades has more to do, I think, with the punditocracy than with the interest level of the general population, Gallup poll or not.

    Mr. Tester is often very wrong, but I think he’s on the mark this time. If presidential elections were decided purely on popular vote, Iowa would quickly fade into political oblivion. I have no personal objection to that, but Mrs. Bachmann might. Citing “equal representation” for smaller states might be overstating the case just a bit, but I think Mr. Tester’s rationale is essentially correct – without the electoral college, states with smaller populations might well be ignored altogether. At the time the Constitution was written, these were largely – but not entirely – southern states with sizable slave populations (the 3/5ths compromise, fortunately now done away with, was intimately connected with this). It’s a fine line between granting too much influence to states with small populations – the in-state analogy is to grant, as most states do, disproportionate influence to rural areas – and the other extreme of ignoring their concerns altogether. If we’re going to err, I’d rather we gave states with small populations more influence than they should have if the alternative is to give them virtually no influence at all.

    In short, this is an instance where I’m inclined to agree with both Mr. Swift and Mr. Tester.

    I can hardly believe it myself…

    That leads, however, to a secondary reason for my lack of enthusiasm for doing away with the electoral college. That secondary reason is that, in the current political environment, I’d rather not give even a smidgen more influence to the radical right than it has already purchased. The Koch brothers are merely the poster children for a crowd of mossy-backed reactionaries, not all of them wealthy, who’d like to repeal the 20th century in its entirety on the domestic policy front, and return the United States to those good ol’ days of the robber barons, massive pollution, and private armies of thugs to keep workers who try to organize for better pay or working conditions in their place. I don’t really want supporters of those kinds of policies, or of Michele Bachmann’s equally-detrimental empty-headedness to have any more influence than they’ve already managed to accumulate. The right wing has demonstrated a very well-funded aptitude for propaganda that has shifted the population in their direction over the past generation. Doing away with the electoral college simply makes that propaganda campaign easier.

    As it happens, Wyoming has plenty of oil and gas and coal, but few people, so it has only 3 electoral votes, and as a result, no matter which system we have, presidential candidates don’t spend a lot of time there.

    Isn’t it interesting that disagreement with Mr. Swift makes one either a leftist or a fool? There are apparently no other acceptable alternatives.

  10. Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 10/24/2011 - 07:06 pm.

    If the Electoral College is abolished, the more populated States will roll over the less populated and rural States.

    No, I do not want New York, Illinois, and California political and social ideologies imprinted upon the rest of the United States.

    No thanks.

  11. Submitted by Matthew Brillhart on 10/24/2011 - 09:01 pm.

    I think the best argument for ditching the electoral system is increased voter turnout. If people feel like their vote doesn’t matter, they don’t show up at the polls…it’s that simple. Regardless of your political leanings, you have to believe that our horrendous voter turnout rates are a detriment to our political system. The problem with government isn’t the left or the right…it’s the people who don’t care enough to participate.

  12. Submitted by Thomas Eckhardt on 10/24/2011 - 11:13 pm.

    Well, first let me say that it’s comforting to have Mr Brandon and Mr Swift able to explain things to those of us who aren’t as smart as they are (#2 and#3). But I wonder what all the worrying is about. Yes, a direct popular vote would have changed the result in 2000, but then you have to go back to 1888 for the next election in which the electoral result was different from the popular vote.

    I also think the “New York and California” hysteria is bogus. With the current system, for example, no one bothers to campaign in Texas, knowing it will go republican. But with a direct popular vote it might be worth the Dem candidate to campaign there if he can pick up some votes. That’s the good part of direct election, it doesn’t matter where you get the votes from.

  13. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/25/2011 - 09:45 am.

    Mr. Eckhardt:
    Post #2 was not explaining anyting; it was posing a question.

  14. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/25/2011 - 09:47 am.

    Even a stopped clock is right twice a day 😉

  15. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/25/2011 - 09:49 am.

    Would you then agree that all state legislative districts should have the same population?

  16. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 10/25/2011 - 06:37 pm.

    The states can, as some have, change their electoral college votes from winner-take-all to proportional representation in the College based on the popular vote. So if 70% of Minnesotans voted for the Democratic candidate, 70% of its electoral votes would go to him/her and 30% to the Republican candidate.

    This change might make candidates take smaller states more seriously, which I do not consider a bad thing.

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