Delaware Is 13th State to Pledge Electoral Votes to National Popular Vote Winner; New Poll Shows Trump Without Majority Support

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A woman casts her vote at the Called to Freedom Fellowship Church polling location on Election Day in Cambridge, Ohio. Editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers released a cartoon depicting the choice being between “democracy” and “totalitarian rule.” Justin Merriman/Getty Images

President Donald Trump won the 2016 election despite losing the nationwide popular vote by nearly 3 million votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. A new poll showed Trump could once again fall short of winning the popular vote, but repeating his electoral college victory may be more difficult in 2020, with a growing number of states pledging to give their electoral votes to whoever garners the most votes nationally.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found that 53 percent of all eligible voters would "definitely not" vote for President Trump, assuming he is once again the Republican nominee in 2020, compared with 30 percent of potential voters saying they would definitely vote to re-elect Trump.

Not surprisingly, responses to this question were heavily partisan, with 95 percent of Democratic respondents saying they would absolutely not support Trump, while 77 percent of Republicans responded with definite support for the president. A majority (54 percent) of independent voters signaled they were certain to not vote for Trump, with only 21 percent definitely backing a re-election and another 21 percent signaling they would consider voting for Trump in 2020.

In theory, Trump could win a second term in the White House by once again beating his opponents in states with large numbers of electoral votes. However, a growing number of states recently enacted legislation that, regardless of the outcome in the state, would grant the state's electoral college votes to whichever candidate won the nationwide popular vote.

Delaware Governor John Carney on Thursday signed SB22, legislation that made Delaware the 13th state to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would change the way electoral votes are awarded in presidential elections. Rather than have those votes go toward the candidate who wins the popular vote in that state, the electoral votes would instead go toward the total for the winner of the overall national vote.

But there are caveats to this pledge. First, the compact would not be triggered until a sufficient number of states signed on to bring the total number of pledged electoral votes to 270. Unless the compact meets that threshold, electoral votes will continue to be distributed as they have been. Right now, the 13 states (and Washington, D.C.) that have signed on to the compact represent a total of 184 electoral votes—84 short of the 270 minimum needed to activate the change.

Second, the states that have signed on to the compact—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington—are all states where the electoral votes went to Clinton in 2016. Thus, the agreement, as it stands now, would do little to change the outcome.

Supporters of the National Popular Vote compact said it would compel candidates to win over voters everywhere, not just in states where a candidate believed there were sufficient electoral votes to merit attention. Critics of the proposal contended that it would strip voters in those states of their voice by having that states' electors go toward a candidate who may not be supported by a majority of people in the state. Additionally, they argued that in an effort to win over as many people as possible in the most efficient manner, candidates would focus their campaigns on dense urban and suburban areas, neglecting rural voters.

donald trump losing shutdown voter poll
President Trump answers questions from the press at the White House on January 14. The government remains in a partial shutdown over Trump's demand for funding for his long-promised border wall. Win McNamee/Getty Images