WASHINGTON — A majority of Americans say that the United States should amend the Constitution to do away with the Electoral College in favor of a national popular vote.
But their answers also have a lot to do with how they voted in the last presidential election.
A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that 53 percent of Americans support a move to a popular vote, while 43 percent believe the country should continue to elect its presidents using the Electoral College.
But an overwhelming 78 percent of those who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 believe the country should adopt a national popular vote. Clinton won the popular vote in the last presidential election by nearly 3 million votes but still lost the presidential contest in the Electoral College, 232 to 306.
And an equally overwhelming 74 percent of those who voted for Donald Trump say the existing system should stay in place.
Those differences are similarly reflected in support for the Electoral College by party identification.
Three-quarters of Republicans (74 percent) want to keep the Electoral College, while just 25 percent support a popular vote; it’s almost the mirror image among Democrats, with 79 percent advocating for the popular vote and just 18 percent backing the current system of electoral votes.
Among independents, it’s nearly an even split. Forty-four percent support the current system, while 49 percent back a switch to the popular vote.
Critics of the Electoral College say that it awards too much influence to more rural and less populous states.
Each state’s electoral votes are equal to its total number of representatives and senators in Congress, but while representatives are based on population, each state is guaranteed two senators. That means, for example, that populous California has one electoral vote per 712,000 people, while the least populous state — Wyoming — has one for every 195,000 people.
The Electoral College’s disadvantages for more densely populated states is reflected in urban residents’ dissatisfaction with the existing system. Just 36 percent of urban residents want to keep the Electoral College in place, while 59 percent support a move to a national popular vote.
Among rural residents, 51 percent favor keeping the Electoral College, while 45 percent say the popular vote should be used instead.
For those who live in the suburbs, 44 percent favor the Electoral College and 53 percent back a national popular vote to elect the nation’s presidents.
The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted April 29-May 1, 2019. The margin of error for 900 interviews among adults is +/- 3.27 percent.