54% of Americans agree with Democrats' idea to radically reshape how we elect presidents

  • The majority of Americans – 54% – want the president to be elected by the popular vote, rather than the Electoral College, according to a new INSIDER poll.
  • Just 30% of Americans – and 15% of registered Democrats who intend to vote in the 2020 primary – think the Electoral College is a better way of determining the outcome of US elections.
  • This comes as a handful of 2020 candidates have announced their support for getting rid of the Electoral College, which has disproportionately hurt Democrats in the past.

The majority of Americans are ready to shake up presidential elections.

54% of Americans want the president to be elected by the popular vote, rather than the Electoral College, according to a new INSIDER poll conducted on SurveyMonkey Audience. Just 30% of poll respondents said they want the Electoral College to determine the outcome of US presidential elections.

And three-quarters of registered Democrats who intend to vote in the 2020 Democratic primary said they prefer the popular vote, while just 15% prefer the Electoral College.

Read more:
Elizabeth Warren wants to eliminate the Electoral College and let the popular vote decide presidential elections

The question did not go into the practicalities of overhauling the presidential election system — the requisite constitutional amendment or national popular vote interstate compact — just simply which system is probably better for picking the leader of the United States.

Respondents were asked which statement best represented their view: “the winner of the national popular vote should be president,” “the winner of at least 270 electoral college votes should be president,” or an option if they did not know.

The support for the popular vote comes after a handful of 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, announced their support for eliminating the Electoral College.

“My view is that every vote matters and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College – and every vote counts,” Warren said to big cheers from the crowd at a CNN town hall earlier this month.

Sen. Kamala Harris, the California Democrat running for president, has since said she’s “open” to getting rid of the Electoral College, and Beto O’Rourke of Texas, who’s also running in the primary, thinks there’s “a lot of wisdom” in deferring to the popular vote.

Read more:
Pete Buttigieg wants to end the Electoral College, add more seats to the Supreme Court, and become America’s youngest president

Democrats have for centuries come out on the losing end of the Electoral College despite winning the popular vote. Democratic candidates have won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College, and therefore the White House, in four of the five such instances, dating back to Samuel Tilden’s loss to Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876.

More recently, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote against Donald Trump by almost 3 million votes in 2016. And in 2000, former Democratic vice president Al Gore also beat George W. Bush in the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College and the presidency.

Prior to entering politics, Trump himself railed against the “sham” Electoral College , calling the system a “disaster for democracy” and a “total travesty” in 2012. After his November 2016 win, Trump said he would still rather let the popular vote determine the outcome of presidential elections, but added that he “respects” the current system.

SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,086 respondents collected March 22-23, 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 3.13 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.

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