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Voters: Election Should Have Ended Nov. 4

Election 2008 officially ended today as 538 presidential electors met in state capitals to cast their votes, but if it were up to all the voters, the election would have been over on Nov. 4 when 131 million pulled the lever.

In a Washington Post-ABC News poll on the eve of last month's election, 61 percent said the presidency should be decided by the popular vote. Far fewer, 35 percent, said they favor the tradition, whereby the winner is the one to cross the 270 vote threshold in the electoral college.

Majorities of Democrats, independents and Republicans alike said they would prefer the candidate getting the most votes nationally to win rather than the one ahead in the electoral college should those produce different results, as was the case in 2000. Similarly, most liberals and conservatives said the one with the most overall votes should prevail in that circumstance.

Q. Imagine that in Tuesday's presidential election one candidate wins the popular vote, but another wins the majority of votes in the electoral college. If that were to happen, who do you think should become president - the winner of the popular vote or the winner of the electoral college?


SOURCE: Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted by telephone Nov. 1, 2008 among a random national sample of 618 likely voters. Results have a four point error margin.

     Popular   Electoral   No 
      vote       college  opin.
All    61          35       5
Dem    66          26       8
Rep    54          42       4 
Ind    61          37       1

Lib    68          28       3
Mod    66          30       4
Con    54          43       3

By Jon Cohen  |  December 15, 2008; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  Post Polls  
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There is a mistaken impression in the public that the Electoral College was designed to equalize the small state/ big state inequalities. That is simply not true. At that time only 20% of the public could read and it was generally understood by the framers that they would not be able to understand the issues of the day but that they would know the local leaders who could act intelligently in their behalf.
The idea of a representative format to elect the President was probably a good idea at the time of the framing of the Constitution but is now outdated.

The advent of public education and mass communication have rendered the Electoral College unnecessary by the standards of the founders. Unfortunatley the small states seem to believe it provides them with some political advantage and are unlikely to ratify a constitutional amendment. In this they are wrong.

With the exception of Obama no one has actively worked the small states in years because they rarely can make a difference in the outcome. If the small states wanted political power they would support the concept of a popular vote. Think of the impact that Wyoming or Deleware could have on a tightly contested election such as 2000 where the differece in popular vote was abour 500,000 or 1960 when the total popular vote difference was about 120,00.

This is one arena where we no longer need representation in our democratic republic. The election of the President needs to be entirely democratic.

Posted by: RD123 | December 18, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

When we Democrats suffered crushing defeats in 2000 and 2004, I consoled friends with the observation, 'We won't be able to beat the Republicans for 50 years. But they can beat themselves in four years.' And, they did.

It is a lesson we Democrats should keep clearly in mind. We must not let the sweet wine of victory can quickly become the sour vinegar of arrogance.

Posted by: JohnInTexas | December 18, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

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