Bernie Sanders Backs Scrapping Electoral College after New Analysis Finds Entrenched Advantage for Trump in 2020

Senator Bernie Sanders on Friday called for the abolition of the electoral college in response to a new analysis showing that President Donald Trump could win re-election in 2020 while still losing the popular vote by as many as five million ballots.

Trump won the 2016 election despite coming up nearly three million ballots short of Hillary Clinton in the popular vote. His electoral college victory in that race was still comfortable, as analyst Dave Wasserman noted in a new projection of possible discrepancies between the electoral outcomes and popular support in 2020.

Sanders has previously said that it's "hard to defend" the Constitution's current system for allocating electors, which heavily weights rural states and minimizes the impact of large urban centers, and had called for re-examining "the concept of the electoral college."

Abolish the Electoral College.

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 19, 2019

"The nation's two most populous states, California and Texas, are at the heart of Democrats' geography problem," Wasserman wrote in an NBC News analysis. "Both behemoths are growing more diverse at a much faster rate than the nation — owing to booming Asian and Latino populations — and are trending towards Democrats. Yet neither California nor red Texas would play a pivotal role in a close 2020 election, potentially rendering millions of additional Democratic votes useless."

The New York Times released a similar analysis on Friday, finding that while Trump's popular support could be slipping out of reach, his structural advantage due to the electoral college "may be even larger than it was in 2016."

Nate Cohn, writing for the Times, concluded that Trump's views on immigration and race, while perhaps alienating to large swaths of Americans, could resonate with a smaller, key electorate that resides in Rust Belt swing states. Whereas some of these voters may have recently become disenchanted due to an increasingly unraveling trade war with China and tariffs that have impacted their bottom line, an invocation of race, such as when the president fired off racist tweets against four Democratic congresswomen, may serve to electrify support among voters susceptible to this rhetoric.

"A strategy rooted in racial polarization could at once energize parts of the president's base and rebuild support among wavering white working-class voters," Cohn wrote. "Many of these voters backing Mr. Trump in the first place in part because of his views on hot-button issues, including on immigration and race."

Cohn ultimately found that an energized Democratic electorate could serve to flesh out the popular vote in states non-critical to the electoral college, enabling Trump to win re-election while losing the national vote by as much as five percentage points.

Other 2020 Democrats have previously called for abolishing the electoral college. For example, Senator Elizabeth Warren has supported a constitutional amendment to repeal it and Washington Governor Jay Inslee has encouraged the idea of using an interstate compact to make the electoral college functionally obsolete.

Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Delivers Address On Medicare For All
Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) gives his Medicare for All address at the George Washington University July 17, 2019 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty