Republican Voters Know the Electoral College is Rigged–and They Want to Keep it That Way

Partisanship is a powerful drug. It can change minds overnight, and blind supposedly decent people to overt injustice.

Nowhere has that become more obvious than the large uptick in support for the Electoral College among Republicans in the wake up Donald Trump’s election. Whereas only 35% of Americans in 2011 said they wanted to keep the Electoral College, in the latest Gallup survey the issue has become partisanized, with 47% of Americans saying they want to keep it and 49% saying they want to get rid of it. The rise in support predictably comes from Republicans.

Americans’ support for keeping the Electoral College system for electing presidents has increased sharply. Weeks after the 2016 election, 47% of Americans say they want to keep the Electoral College, while 49% say they want to amend the Constitution to allow for a popular vote for president. In the past, a clear majority favored amending the U.S. Constitution to replace the Electoral College with a popular vote system.

The problem, of course, is that Republicans know that without the Electoral College, Trump would not be president-elect today. In spite of false conspiracy-theory claims promoted by InfoWars and Trump himself about supposed voter fraud, most GOP voters are well aware that Clinton won the popular vote:

Because of the divergence of the Electoral College and popular vote, the popular vote is garnering particular attention this year. Two-thirds of Americans correctly name Clinton as the winner of the popular vote, while 15% incorrectly name Trump and 18% say they are unsure. Eighty-five percent of Democrats correctly name Clinton as the winner of the popular vote compared with 56% of Republicans.

The fact that 44% of Republicans either think Trump won the popular vote or aren’t sure is disturbing on its own. But perhaps more disturbing is the situational ethics: not only have many Republicans changed their mind about the electoral college, but they know their insistence on it is rigging the election against the winner of the popular vote, and they don’t care.

Currently, 19% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents favor basing the winner on the popular vote, down from 49% in October 2004 and 54% in 2011. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents already widely favored having the popular vote determine the winner and are slightly more likely to do so now than in the past.

This is all part of the post-objectivity trend in Republican politics. There is no objective truth, no objective morality. It’s only about what it takes to win. The ends justify the means.

We used to define that as moral evil. It still is.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.