More Voters Want Popular Vote, Not Electoral College, to Decide President: Poll

A plurality of American voters believe the winner of the popular vote, rather than the electoral college, should win the presidential election, according to a new poll conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies for Newsweek.

The poll shows 49 percent of registered voters want the candidate who wins the national popular vote to win the White House. Just 27 percent think the winner of the electoral college should become president, while 23 percent said they don't know.

The poll was conducted on October 17 and 18 among 3,150 registered voters and the margin of error was 1.75 percent. A majority of respondents in all age groups believe that the winner of the popular vote should win the election.

However, there was a sharp contrast in responses from supporters of President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Among those who voted for Trump in 2016, just 32 percent believed the popular vote should determine who wins the presidency, while 49 percent opted for the electoral college.

The split among 2020 Trump voters was almost identical, with 31 percent choosing the popular vote and 48 percent the electoral college.

Sixty-eight percent of voters who voted for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016 said the popular vote should decide the president, as did 69 percent of respondents who said they would vote for Biden or had already done so. Just 15 percent of Biden voters thought the electoral college should decide, with 17 percent answering "Don't Know."

Trump won the White House in 2016 despite losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million. His narrow victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin secured his election.

Fifty-one percent of those who did not identify as either Clinton or Trump voters supported the popular vote result deciding the president, along with 45 percent of those who didn't vote in 2016.

A plurality of voters who say they won't vote for either Trump or Biden this year also said the popular vote should determine the next president, including 43 percent of those supporting Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgenson, 43 percent supporting the Green Party's Howie Hawkins and 49 percent who said they'll vote for another third party or a write-in candidate.

However, 55% of those who said they didn't know who they would vote for also said they didn't know if the electoral college or the popular vote should determine the winner, as did 46 percent of those who said they wouldn't vote.

A presidential candidate needs 270 electoral college votes to win. A state's electoral college votes is equal to its number of members of the House of Representatives plus its two senators.

A Gallup poll of September 24 found 61 percent of voters supported abolishing the electoral college, though the Newsweek poll did not ask about abolition. Support for abolishing the electoral college has reached its highest point for almost 10 years.

Two candidates have won the White House without winning the popular vote in the last 20 years, George W. Bush in 2000 and Trump in 2016.

The Trumps and Bidens at the Debate
First lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, stand on stage following the conclusion of the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. The electoral college will determine who wins the election. Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images