Electoral College poll: Slight plurality favors action that requires 3/4s of states

The headline for today’s Morning Consult article on their latest joint poll with Politico is self-refuting … for anyone who passed their high-school civics class. “Plurality Wants Popular Vote Over Electoral College,” the headline states, which is accurate enough — and entirely irrelevant:

As the Electoral College gathers to cast their votes for president Monday, Republicans and Democrats are sharply divided on whether the institution should determine who wins the White House.

A new Morning Consult/POLITICO survey shows that a plurality of voters, 45 percent, said the Constitution should be amended to shelve the Electoral College in favor of the popular vote, compared with 40 percent who said the system should remain as is.

That narrow plurality does fall outside the margin of error (±2%), but it’s hardly a mandate for the kind of action necessary to effect the change. The Constitution established the Electoral College as the process for electing the president and vice-president, a system so well embraced that later amendments fortified it rather than acted to eliminate it. Opponents of the Electoral College would have to pass another constitutional amendment to eliminate it, which would require the approval of two-thirds of both the House and Senate plus three-quarters of the states to ratify it.

How well does a 46/40 result work within that? Not well. It’s not at all surprising that the main support for this idea comes from Democrats. They favor an amendment 68/19, almost the exact reverse of Republicans’ 62/25 support for the Electoral College. Urban voters, whose influence would be most boosted in a popular-vote system, favor it 55/26.

What does seem a bit surprising is that every region has at least a plurality in favor of amending the Constitution to use the popular vote instead (in the crosstabs). Only two have majorities in favor, however, and it’s not terribly surprising to see those being the Northeast and the West — the two regions whose population centers would dominate a popular-vote contest. Even then, though, their majorities (51% and 50% respectively) hardly portend success for an effort to push through an amendment to ratification.

Which states would be willing to surrender their influence on presidential elections? It would take 38 to ratify even if one could get Congress to pass it with two-thirds majorities. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan just got a taste of what being a swing state means, joining others like Colorado, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, and others. Would southern states surrender their electoral power to the Yankees? Would Midwestern states allow California and Florida to pick their presidents? Not a chance.

Politico headlines the more newsy part of the poll instead of the pipe dream — “Voters show little support for Electoral College revolt”:

On the eve of an historic Electoral College vote, a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows there’s little support for a long-shot effort to free this year’s electors to choose a candidate other than Donald Trump.

A 46-percent plurality of voters say that electors should be bound to vote for the candidate that won their state, more than the 34 percent who think electors shouldn’t be bound if they have significant concerns about the winning candidate. Two-in-10 voters were undecided on the question.

So 46% think the Electoral College should be changed, but only 34% think elector’s votes should be changed? That suggests that demand for change is mainly a reaction to the results of this election — a dog-in-the-manger reaction. Readers won’t be surprised to find that half of Democrats support faithless electors — at least in this cycle — but they’re much more alone on that question. After today, they’ll almost certainly be even more alone on it, too.