Polls shows splits in public opinion on Electoral College

WASHINGTON — Democratic voters are much more inclined than Republicans to relegate the Electoral College to the trash heap of history, according to a new national survey.

That’s apparently what happens when you lose the electoral vote count despite winning the popular vote in two of the past five presidential elections, which leaves your party outside the White House looking in.

That’s been the fate of two Democratic presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton last month and Al Gore in 2000. Her lead over Donald Trump is approaching 3 million votes. But he won more electoral votes: 306 to Clinton’s 232.

A McClatchy-Marist Poll found that more than half of registered voters — 52 percent — say the winner of the popular vote for president should determine the winner; 45 percent say the Electoral College has worked out just fine.

But breaking the sentiments down by party reveals a partisan gap.

Among Democrats, 78 percent support using the popular vote as the measure, compared with 29 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of independent voters.

The electors will meet Monday in state capitals and the District of Columbia to cast their ballots and, presumably, elect Trump.

It’s generally a pro forma exercise, devoid of drama.

But not this year. An effort is ongoing to persuade Republican electors to reconsider their support for Trump in light of the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that the Russian government tried to influence the presidential election through hacks into the Democratic National Committee.

The Washington Post has reported that the CIA believes that the purpose was to damage Clinton and help elect Trump. NBC News reported that intelligence officials believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin was involved. Trump critics have said the electors should be given access to the intelligence behind the Russian hacks before they vote to affirm the popular-vote election results.

Trump has called the notion of Russians trying to undermine the election “ridiculous” and has publicly disparaged the U.S. intelligence community. During the campaign, he praised Putin, a former Russian intelligence operative who rules like a dictator, calling him “a leader far more than our president has been.”

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