The Politics of Electoral Reform

In this working paper, with David Bateman, we present evidence that proposals to make American elections more democratic have been consistently popular, and have only become less popular in recent years due to growing Republican opposition.

We trace findings from several decades of public opinion surveys provided by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research to show that reforms to make American elections more representative have been consistently popular. That popularity, though, is decreasing over time, due almost exclusively to increasing Republican opposition.

That opposition, interestingly, is most pronounced in the days immediately after an election where electoral rules advantage the Republican party over and above their vote share.

Next Steps

  • Examining the popularity of other electoral reforms.
  • Conducting an experiment to test what concerns cause partisans to lose support for electoral reform–we intend to examine race, partisanship, and other factors.


The slight overall decrease in the public’s support for electoral college reform has been driven by strongly reduced Republican support, a dynamic that is particularly strong after close elections.


Provided by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research

Colin Cepuran Written by:

Colin Cepuran is a political scientist and a policy analyst working in Houston, TX.