About replacing the electoral college by National Popular Vote

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A very interesting movement (http://www.nationalpopularvote.com) is afoot to do this, with what (I think) is a superb strategy.

Nationwide polls about "Should the law be changed so a candidate winning fraction F of the popular vote in a state, would get fraction F of its electoral votes (instead of 100%)?" All these from book "The Gallup polls, public opinion 1935-1971" Amer. Inst. Public Opinion. [Note: Several of these also looked at the education level of those polled, finding the more education they had, the more they wanted to get rid of the electoral college – but more wanted to get rid of the EC than not, even at the lowest education level.]
Year/Month Pollster % Margin to proportionalize EC
(Change law - no change - no opinion)
1948 (28 Aug.) Gallup 58-15-27
1950 (6 Mar.) Gallup 57-22-21
1951 (Aug.) Gallup 57-21-22
1955 (Nov.) Gallup 60-28-12
1955 (Dec.) Gallup 52-29-19
1961 (Aug.) Gallup 61-21-18

Nationwide polls about "should the electoral college be abolished and replaced by nationwide popular vote?" (Note: precise wordings of poll questions varied, and may differ slightly from ours.)
Year/Month Pollster % Margin to abolish EC
(abolish EC - keep EC - undecided)
1944 (June) Gallup [based on Frank Newport: Americans support proposal to eliminate Electoral College system, Gallup Poll Monthly 424 (January 2001) 9-10] 65-23-13
1966 (Jan.) Gallup 63-20-17
1968 (24 Nov.) Gallup 81-12-7
1987 (25 May) CBS News/ New York Times Poll 61-33-6
2000 (11 Nov.) Time/CNN 63-29-8
2000 (18 Dec.) Washington Post/ ABC News Poll 62-33-5
2007 (May-June) Washington Post/ Kaiser Family Foundation/ Harvard University 73-23-4

As you can see from the above poll data, it seems like for ever and ever, large majorities of Americans have hated the electoral college and wanted to get rid of it. The problem was, what Americans wanted was irrelevant. What mattered was power. The only way to get rid of the electoral college was a constitutional amendment, and that could forever be, and always was, blocked by small-state senators. The new strategic idea tries to bypass that roadblock.

Here is an email from John B. Anderson explaining it. (We have added two footnotes.)

And here is a pdf of the bill in question (California AB 2948), originally written/sponsored by Assembly members Tom Umberg (chair of the Assembly Elections Committee), Mervyn M. Dymally, John Laird, Loni Hancock, Mark Leno, and Ted W. Lieu and (Senator) Jack Scott. Similar legislation is pending in five other states: New York, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado and Louisiana. And here is an article on this by Dr. John R. Koza (Co-author of Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote). And another article by ABC News on the same thing.

You can send an email to Schwarzennegger to support AB 2948 here.

From: John Anderson, FairVote [mailto:address@fairvote.org] 
Sent: Friday, September 08, 2006 5:49 AM
Subject: Urge Gov. Schwarzenegger to Sign National Popular Vote Bill

Fairvote Action Alert From the Desk of John B. Anderson

Help Change How We Elect the President

In 1980 I ran for president of the United States. That campaign only confirmed my longstanding belief that we must reform presidential elections. Today I write to ask you to help the nation take an historic step toward that urgently needed reform.

Last month the California legislature passed AB 2948, a bill that would make California the first state to agree to award all of its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. Once states that together represent a majority of the Electoral College have joined a binding agreement to do the same, the winner of the national popular vote – the total vote in all 50 states and the District of Columbia – is guaranteed to win the Electoral College and become president.

Our recent Presidential Election Inequality report powerfully demonstrates that a vast majority of Americans are ignored and irrelevant in modern presidential elections because they don't live in the handful of "battleground" states. The National Popular Vote proposal put forward in AB 2948 is a politically practical solution to this very serious problem. Not only is the proposal constitutional, but we believe it's a constitutional imperative for states to act in the best interests of their people and the nation.

Popular election of the president has been supported by large majorities of Americans since Gallup1 began polling on the issue in the 1940s. For everyone who wants an electoral system in which all voices are heard and everyone is represented, implementation of the National Popular Vote plan will be a huge victory.

Here's what we ask you to do

If you live in California, please urge Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign AB 2948 so that California can lead the way to presidential elections in which every voter, in every state, is important in the nation's most important election. As Gov. Schwarzenegger could sign or veto the bill at any time, please act today. It takes just a moment to send him a personalized e-mail here: http://www.govmail.ca.gov, and since we'd like to post some of your letters, also send a copy to Bill Shein, director of our Presidential Elections Reform Program, at bill@fairvote.org. You can mail your letters as well. FairVote's letter to the governor along with his mailing address is posted2 at: http://fairvote.org/?page=1883.

If you don't live in California, you still can help. First, please forward this e-mail to any Californian you know and urge them to take action. Second, ask your state representatives to support similar legislation in your state.

My thanks, John B. Anderson Chair, FairVote

FairVote on National Popular Vote: http://www.fairvote.org/president
National Popular Vote Web site: http://www.nationalpopularvote.com

1. "Gallup Poll's Analyses" 5 January 2001: Frank Newport discussed the public's view of the Electoral College: "One of the earliest times in which the public was asked about the Electoral College system was June 1944, just before Franklin Roosevelt's re-election to his forth term. A Gallup Poll question asked, 'It has been suggested that the electoral vote system be discontinued and presidents of the U.S. be elected by total popular vote alone. Do you favor or oppose this proposal?' The answer: 65% of Americans said they favored the proposal, with 23% saying they opposed it, and another 13% saying they had no opinion." In one later poll, the support grew to 81%.

2. Excerpt from Rob Richie's letter to Schwarzenegger: "To: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: AB 2948.
I am writing to express FairVote' support for AB 2948, legislation pending your consideration that would have California enter into an interstate compact leading to a national popular election for the president. California is the poster child for the inequities of the current Electoral College system: Our nation's most populous and renowned state has no direct role in general elections for president – it would be as if Los Angeles County or Orange County could be completely ignored in California's elections for governor. It is not right for any state to be ignored, but particularly one like California."

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