Poll: Americans Want to Dump Electoral College

Almost two-thirds of Americans are in favor of abolishing the Electoral College system in favor of one where the national popular vote winner is elected president, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

The poll, commissioned with the same question periodically since the contested 2000 presidential contest, found that a record 62 percent of Americans want the system changed.

It also marks the first time since Gallup has been asking the Electoral College question that a majority of Republicans expressed support for moving to a popular vote system. In 2000—the year Democrat Al Gore lost to George W. Bush, despite winning the popular vote—just 41 percent of Republicans expressed support for replacing the Electoral College.

Today, 53 percent of Republicans want to chuck the Electoral College vote.

Democratic and independent support for electoral changes has remained steady. Support amongst Democrats waned by four points to 71 percent, while independent support ticked upward slightly to 61 percent.  

A series of Gallup polls taken between 1967 and 1980 show dissatisfaction in the Electoral College system isn’t a modern phenomenon—it existed long before Bush v. Gore. Between those years, support for the popular vote system tracked as high as 80 percent.

The most recent numbers are from a Gallup poll conducted Oct. 6-9, which surveyed 1,005 adults and has a margin of error of ±4 percentage points.

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The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates, after the primaries, do not reach out to over 2/3rds of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all method (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only the current handful of closely divided "battleground" states and their voters. There is no incentive for them to bother to care about the majority of states where they are hopelessly behind or safely ahead to win. 9 of the original 13 states are considered “fly-over” now. In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives agree already, that, at most, only 14 states and their voters will matter. None of the 10 most rural states will matter, as usual. Almost 75% of the country will be ignored --including 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and 17 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX. This will be more obscene than the 2008 campaign, when candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their campaign events and ad money in just 6 states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Over half (57%) of the events were in just 4 states (OH, FL, PA, and VA). In 2004, candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their money and campaign visits in 5 states; over 80% in 9 states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states.

2/3rds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential election. That's more than 85 million voters ignored. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

Voter turnout in the "battleground" states has been 67%, while turnout in the "spectator" states was 61%.

Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

Since World War II, a shift of only a few thousand votes in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 13 presidential elections. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 6 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections. 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore's lead of 537,179 popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 Million votes.

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