A national popular vote is gaining steam, but is it feasible?

A movement to scrap the Electoral College is gaining steam.

When presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., suggested switching to a national popular vote at a CNN town hall, it was one of the biggest applause lines of the night.

The idea is not new, but it gained renewed interest in 2016 when former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by a margin of nearly 3 million votes, yet received 77 fewer electoral votes than Donald Trump.

It was the second time in five presidential elections that the winner of the popular vote lost the presidency, and the fourth time since the founding of the country.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a movement that aims to prevent that from happening again.

States that belong to the compact agree to give their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, even if that candidate does not win the majority of votes within their own state. However, the compact is not binding until its membership includes enough states to control 270 electoral votes, which is the threshold needed to win the presidency.

As of this writing, 13 states and the District of Columbia have signed the compact, for a total of 184 electoral votes.

Two political scientists joined MPR News host Kerri Miller for a conversation about the Electoral College, the odds of it being abolished and what the logistics of a national popular vote would look like.


Andra Gillespie is an associate professor of political science at Emory University

Seth Masket is director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver

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