Poll: Majority of Democrats say Electoral College delegates should cast ballots based on popular vote

A majority of Democrats say the Electoral College delegates should cast their ballots based on the popular vote, according to the latest Hill-HarrisX poll released on Wednesday.

Of those surveyed, 56 percent of Democratic voters said that states “should require electors to vote for the winner of the popular vote,” compared to 44 percent of those who said that “electors should use their own judgment when voting.”

Members of the Electoral College cast votes for the president during the general election cycle every four years.

Some electors occasionally go rogue — a move that renders them a "faithless elector," though many states have laws requiring electors to pledge that they will support the winner of the state’s popular vote.

The question of whether members of the Electoral College should cast their votes for presidential candidates other than the ones they pledged to support remains a contentious issue.

The Supreme Court reportedly agreed to settle the question last month. According to The New York Times, the court will settle on it in its current term, which ends in June.

As previously elections show, just a few delegate votes can make or break an election.

During the bitter 2016 primary battle between Clinton and Sanders, the issue of delegates surfaced. Clinton won the Democratic nomination on the strength of her showing among pledged delegates — meaning those elected by voters. The Sanders campaign later took issue with the fact that the unelected superdelegates — free to support the candidate they want —  broke disproportionately to Clinton’s campaign.

Even though Clinton went on to win the popular vote in the 2016 general election, she ultimately lost to President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Overnight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license MORE after garnering 232 votes in the Electoral College compared to Trump’s 306 votes.

Following Trump’s unexpected victory, some Democrats floated the idea of getting rid of the electoral college altogether.

A handful of Senate Democrats, including Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate 'unlikely' to return on April 20, top GOP senator says Durbin: Bringing senators back in two weeks would be 'dangerous and risky' How the Senate should implement remote voting in emergencies MORE (ill.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinKudlow slams senators who allegedly traded stock before pandemic Senators demand more details from Trump on intel watchdog firing Zoom, grocery delivery, self-isolation: How lawmakers are surviving coronavirus MORE (Calif.), have supported a constitutional amendment that would abolish the Electoral College, so presidential candidates would be directly elected by a national popular vote.

Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update Lawmakers, labor leaders ramp up calls to use Defense Production Act Trump faces mounting pressure to unleash Defense Production Act MORE (D-Hawaii), who introduced the bill, argued the current Electoral College system is “outdated” and “undemocratic.”

Some polls suggest that the American public would support such an unprecedented move. According to a 2019 NBC News-Wall Street Journal survey, 53 percent of voters say the outcome of the presidential election should be determined by the popular vote, compared to 43 saying the Electoral College system should stay in place.

The Hill-HarrisX survey was conducted among 1,001 registered voters between Jan. 30 and 31. It has a margin or error of plus or minutes 3.1 percentage points.

—Tess Bonn