Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton concedes defeat on November 8, 2016, at the New Yorker Hotel’s Grand Ballroom. Clinton lost the election despite beating Donald Trump by nearly 3 million votes nationally. File Photo by Olivier Douliery/UPI | License Photo
May 15 (UPI) -- The majority of Americans would like to see the U.S. Constitution amended to change the way presidents are elected every four years -- doing away with the Electoral College and taking the winner of the popular vote, a new study says.
Gallup posed the scenario to more than 1,000 Americans and found 55 percent favored eliminating the Electoral College altogether and going with the popular vote. Forty-three percent opposed the idea.
However, the survey showed that a similar idea -- in which states would simply give their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote -- was less agreeable. Just 45 percent supported that concept, while 53 percent opposed it. Under the current system, states award their electoral votes to the winner of the statewide popular vote.
Arguments against the Electoral College have been around for decades, but became louder in 2000 when Democrat Al Gore lost to George W. Bush despite winning the national popular vote by more than 500,000 ballots. The arguments again ramped up when Donald Trump was elected in 2016, but lost the national vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million ballots.
Three other U.S. presidents have been elected to office despite losing the popular vote -- John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 and Benjamin Harrison in 1888. In four of the five cases, the Democrat was on the losing end.
The main argument for a change is that a popular vote gives every voter an equal say in the race, regardless of where they live. Under the Electoral College, minority party voters often don't even cast a ballot because the outcome in their state is a foregone conclusion. Perhaps the most common argument for the Electoral College is that a popular vote system would give large population clusters -- in large cities like New York and Los Angeles -- too much influence in elections.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for president next year, has been outspoken during her campaign about dumping the Electoral College.
"We need a constitutional amendment that protects the right to vote for every American citizen and makes sure that vote gets counted," Warren said in March. "We need to put some federal muscle behind that."