Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Electoral College, part 3

The percent in favor of electing the president by popular vote in surveys ending on October 9, 2011 and November 20, 2016:

                                2011            2016
Democrats                73.8%           77%
Independents            70%              60.5%
Republicans              52.7%          28.5%

Little change among Democrats, but a big change among Republicans.  I'm not sure if that says something about the difference between Democrats and Republicans, or the circumstances of the 2016 election--most Democrats thought that Hillary Clinton had underperformed, and tended to blame her loss on that rather than the electoral college.

I used the 2011 survey to look for factors affecting state-level support.  I considered number of electoral votes, margin of victory, and region.   Support for the electoral college was somewhat higher in small states, which is as expected since it gives their voters more weight.  There was no evidence that being in a state where the vote was close made any difference (although it's hard to decide how to measure that, since it changes from one election to the next).  Finally, the only regional distinction that appeared to matter was South vs. non-South. That makes some sense, since despite the talk about "coastal enclaves" vs. "heartland," the South is still the most regionally distinctive part, and southerners may think that the electoral college protects their regional interests (it would be interesting to see if there's any interaction with race, but I didn't do that--I did look at basic race differences and support for the electoral college was if anything a bit higher among blacks).  Combining the two factors to get predictions for percent in favor of elections by popular vote for states with 4 and 25 electoral votes in and outside the south:

4, non-south               60.8%
25, non-south             69.5%
4, south                      50.1%
25, south                    59.6%

[Data from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research]

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