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The National Popular Vote

The National Popular Vote movement aims to bypass the electoral college by encouraging states to pass legislation requiring their electoral votes to go to the winner of the national popular vote rather than the state's own popular vote. This provision would not kick in until states totaling a majority of the 538 electoral votes had signed on. The movement has gotten bills passed in 13 states with 181 electoral votes so far.

This legislation is popular among Democrats, who have lost two presidential elections in the last two decades where they won the national popular vote. And so far, all of its support has come from "blue" states, where Democrats have a majority. Colorado, with a new Democratic majority in both houses along with a Democratic governor, is the latest state to sign on, and Delaware and New Mexico legislatures have sent bills to their Democratic governors to sign.

But how much difference will it make? If Democrats had solid majroities in enough states to control 270 electoral votes, they wouldn't need to worry about the national popular vote. They would be able to win both the popular and electoral votes. And if they can't control 270 electoral votes, these bills will simply remain feel-good legislation that brings attention to a problem but does nothing to address it.

In fact, there is only one way this movement could ever have a lasting impact on American politics, and that is if the Democrats manage to get enough states to pass the bill, and then a Republican wins the national popular vote.

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