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.
Republicans have grown somewhat more amenable to adopting a popular vote system over the past decade. Now, for the first time since 2000, the majority of Republicans favor it. Independents are not quite as supportive as Democrats of the popular vote system, but the majority of them have consistently favored it.
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.
Those who advocate abolishing the Electoral College often do so on the basis that the system puts undue emphasis on a small number of swing states. Whether Americans as a whole are concerned about that byproduct is unclear. However, they broadly agree that the country should adopt a system in which the popular vote prevails. While Republicans are less supportive of this than Democrats, 11 years after the 2000 election politicized the issue, the majority of Republicans once again favor the change.