Most Americans would like to see an end to the Electoral College – and support electing future presidents by popular vote instead, according to new data from the Pew Research Center published last week.
About 6 in 10 US adults, or 63%, say that presidential elections should be changed so that the popular vote determines the winner. In contrast, 35% would like to keep the Electoral College.
The number of those supporting a shift to the popular vote has increased significantly since January 2021 – when 55% called for the change while 43% wanted to keep the current system, a previous Pew Research Center survey found.
The presidency is decided by vote of the Electoral College, made up of 538 electors distributed across the states and the District of Columbia. Each elector, chosen by their state’s political parties, casts one vote. Most of the time, the winner of the popular vote in each state gets all of that state’s electoral votes – contributing toward the total majority of 270 electoral votes that a presidential candidate needs to win.
How does the Electoral College work? A look at the electoral system’s impact on battleground states in 2020
Calls to abolish the Electoral College have been around for decades, with critics pointing to the fact that the number of electoral votes per capita is not equal in each state, for example. Under this current system, it’s also possible for a candidate to lose the nationwide popular vote but still secure enough electoral votes to win the presidency.
This has happened five times in the history of US presidential elections so far. John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, George W. Bush and Donald Trump all became presidents thanks to the Electoral College, despite losing the popular vote.
When looking at the demographics of those calling for change today, the Pew Research Center found notable trends in voter age and party affiliation.
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Eighty percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents support moving to a popular vote system – in comparison to 42% of Republicans. While most Republicans (56%) continue to back the Electoral College today, the number of those now supporting the popular vote is significantly higher than after the 2016 election, when just 27% said they wanted the change.
Younger voters were also more likely to call for an end to the Electoral College. Seventy percent of voters aged 18 to 29 supported moving to the popular voting system, in comparison to 56% of voters 65 years and older.
To determine the rates of Electoral College versus popular vote support nationwide, the Pew Research Center surveyed 6,174 US adults from June 27 to July 4 of this year.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism