Replacing the electoral college with a system that would ensure that the winner of the national popular vote is the winner of the presidential election has long been discussed by American political reformers.
The election of 2000 in which George W. Bush won a majority of the electoral votes but lost the national popular vote refueled interest in the topic. By winning slightly fewer popular votes than he did, the reverse might have occurred in 2004: President Bush could have won the popular vote but lost the electoral college.
Standing in the way of changing the electoral vote system is the fact that it is firmly ensconced in Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. The requirement that three-quarters of the states ratify a constitutional amendment is an especially high hurdle for changing the electoral college because small states generally fear that a national popular vote will reduce the slight bias in their favor in the number of electoral votes and the incentive that the system provides for candidates to campaign state by state.
Now comes National Popular Vote, an organization with bipartisan support from former presidential wannabes John Anderson and Birch Bayh (among others), with a "cheeky" proposal to bring about a national popular vote through state legislative action without amending the Constitution. Their idea is for states to enact an interstate compact in which each state binds its electors to vote for the winner of the national popular vote. The compact would not take effect until states with a total of 270 electoral votes--enough to obtain a majority in the electoral college--pass legislation and join the compact.