An electoral college/popular vote split

Nate Silver’s latest model puts the likelihood of Obama winning the electoral college and losing the popular vote at almost 6% (and 2% for the converse).  Charlie Cook’s latest analysis also suggests this as a very real possibility:

The seven jump ball states with a total of 94 electoral votes are Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), New Hampshire (4), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), and Virginia (13).

To win, Obama needs to win states with 17 (or 18 percent) of the 94 electoral votes in the seven Toss Up states, while Romney needs a whopping 79 (or 84 percent) of the 94 electoral votes.

However, the Obama advantage is not as clear cut as this suggests.  In each of these states, Obama and Romney are within 5 percentage points of each other and in most they are within 2 or 3 points of each other.

This race appears to be going to the wire, and the chances of a split popular vote/Electoral College vote are real. Romney looks to be at least an even-money bet for the popular vote, but Obama seems to have the edge in the electoral vote.

As your presumably know, I hate the electoral college.  Before 2000, I thought one of these perverse results would finally result in us getting rid of it. Obviously, it had almost no impact.  Now, maybe I’m completely wrong, but I think that there’s no way the Republicans would simply put up with this crap in a way Democrats have.  I’m thinking this result would have a decent chance of finally ending the electoral college behind the Republican fury.

Now, presumably there’s a downside in that Republicans would spend four years attacking Obama’s legitimacy in a way Democrats never did with GWB.  But honestly, can Republicans cooperate with Obama any less than they have?  And, as much as I would hate to see Obama win this way, with the outcome being protecting Obamacare, I’ll definitely take it.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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