A popular-vote/Electoral College split?

posted at 9:21 am on October 19, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Hey, who’s up for another 2000 election — or 1876?  Charlie Cook and other analysts are warning this week that we may see another split between the outcomes of the popular vote and the Electoral College, but color me skeptical:

Partisans still hoping that their candidate will build a clear lead in the presidential contest are likely to be disappointed. The race seems destined to be a close one, with the outcome remaining in doubt to the very end. President Obama won the second debate, but not by nearly enough to make up for his devastating loss in the first one. Obama was on the verge of putting the race away heading into the first debate, but his weak performance and Mitt Romney’s commanding effort effectively changed the race’s trajectory. Although Obama’s poll numbers are no longer dropping, he is locked in a tight contest: He trails Romney by 1 to 4 percentage points in national polling, yet he still holds a fragile lead in the Electoral College.

Romney entered the first debate with an edge arguably in only one battleground state: North Carolina. Going into the second debate, the former Massachusetts governor also led narrowly in Florida and Virginia, putting him ahead in three of 11 battleground states. Obama now holds small leads in ColoradoIowaNew Hampshire, and Wisconsin, with a slightly wider advantage in Nevada. He still leads, in my judgment, inOhio by about 4 points (although going into the second debate, one senior Romney strategist claimed that the two men were essentially tied at 47 percent in the Buckeye State). Romney is polling far back in Michigan andPennsylvania, states that are effectively noncompetitive.

Although history and this column have argued that the popular vote and the electoral vote usually go in the same direction (that’s what happened in 53 of 56 presidential elections), today, Romney’s national popular-vote situation is different than his Electoral College challenge. Romney’s scar tissue in swing states—the damage inflicted on him by negative ads funded by the Obama campaign and Priorities USA, targeting Bain Capital, plant closings, layoffs, outsourcing, income taxes, and bank accounts in Bermuda, the Caymans, and Switzerland—is still a huge problem. This is compounded by the fact that before the ads aired, voters knew very little about Romney; because of that, they had no positive feelings or perceptions to help him weather the assault. As a result, the attacks stuck as if he were covered in Velcro. Hence, the swing states, many of which have endured saturation advertising since June (73,000 ads in Las Vegas alone), behave differently than the fortysomething other states that have seen little advertising. …

I am now reconciled to the fact that this will be a race to the wire. I am watching Ohio and a handful of other swing states that are right at, or near, the 270-electoral-vote tipping point. In the end, the odds still favor the popular and electoral vote heading in the same direction, but the chances of a split like the one in 2000 are very real, along with the distinct possibility of ambiguity and vote-counting issues once again putting the outcome in question. Ugh.

Does the possibility exist?  Sure.  Is it “very real”? I suppose since it’s real, it’s very real, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.  In our entire history, it has happened exactly three times in 56 presidential election cycles.  The last time was twelve years ago, but previous to that, one has to go back 124 years.

This long shot would be a national nightmare, but a media dream.  One reporter (I can’t recall who) tweeted yesterday that journalists who aren’t pulling for that outcome need to rethink their commitment to their profession.  I’d say that those journalists who do root for this outcome need to rethink their priorities.  It would be another weeks-long mess, hardly what this country or its citizens need, regardless whether it sells a few more papers.

I consider this with the same seriousness as talk of brokered conventions.  They’re always possible, and they almost never happen.  In this case, Cook probably needs to check a few of his assumptions, since Pennsylvania and Michigan are closer in recent polling than he credits, and with that I’d suspect that Ohio is probably not giving Obama an edge, either.  Suffolk has already pulled out of Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina, declaring that their polling gives Obama no chance to win any of the three states.  If Obama manages to win enough battleground states to win the EC, he’s going to win the popular vote, too — or perhaps Cook thinks that Romney’s going to get massive margins of victory in California, New York, and Illinois.

Besides, the law is clear. Whoever win the Electoral College wins the Presidency.  The national popular vote is irrelevant.  Those of us who stayed awake in civics class knew that in 2000, too.


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“NumbersMuncher ‏@NumbersMuncher
PPP daily tracking shows Obama going up 1, 48-47. Romney leads by 5 w/ indys and O underwater w/ approval at 46-50. Sample is D+4.
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gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 10:47 AM

Is that supposed to look bad for Romney? The best case scenario for the Dems on Election Day is D+2 or 3(and don’t hold your breath), and a +5 lead with indies would give Mitt the edge in a lot of swing states.

Doughboy on October 19, 2012 at 10:58 AM”

What this shows is that PPP, Rasmussen and IBD/TIPP are all showing the same basic race, while Gallup is clearly a goofy outlier.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:02 AM

You know Obama is in trouble when the best NSNBC can report is a nationwide “dead heat”. When the left encounters bad news they simply lie about it.

rplat on October 19, 2012 at 10:42 AM

And when Gumby is touting a one-day TIE in one three-day tracking poll as evidence of an Obama surge.

Funny, Gumby never did share his take on yesterday’s Gallup tracking poll, or the Romney +4 result in Pennsylvania. He just sort of ran and hid from those threads. I wonder why, since he is, you know, an avowed conservative.

Right Mover on October 19, 2012 at 11:03 AM

What this shows is that PPP, Rasmussen and IBD/TIPP are all showing the same basic race, while Gallup is clearly a goofy outlier.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:02 AM

You mean they’re showing it’s a dead heat….if you assume a D+4 or D+5 turnout on Election Day? Good luck with that happening.

Doughboy on October 19, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Obama is likely in the lead tomorrow since he gained two points yesterday. Was there a debate bump or binder bump?

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Don’t you get tired of your role as the Court Jester????

opustx on October 19, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Wow, these states are stupid aren’t they? They get all worked up about the whole popular vote versus the electoral college, yet they don’t realize that they are actually hurting their preferred candidate’s chances as all of those states that have it enacted into law all usually vote Democrat.

MobileVideoEngineer on October 19, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Actually, it makes sense for the big population states since the Electoral College is weight toward smaller population states. (Vote count being the number of reps + senators) A small population state like Wyoming gets three votes with a pop of 568,158 – one for about every 190k citizens California gets 55 with a pop. of 37,691,912 – one for about every 685k citizens

Animal60 on October 19, 2012 at 11:06 AM

0 at best will win 18 states.

Bmore on October 19, 2012 at 11:07 AM

“Funny, Gumby never did share his take on yesterday’s Gallup tracking poll, or the Romney +4 result in Pennsylvania. He just sort of ran and hid from those threads. I wonder why, since he is, you know, an avowed conservative.

Right Mover on October 19, 2012 at 11:03 AM”

If you want to believe a poll (gallup) that is 7 pts better for Romney than any other national poll, be my guest. You will be mighty disappointed on election day, or when Gallup tries to avoid further embarrassment and fixes their problems.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:07 AM

What this shows is that PPP, Rasmussen and IBD/TIPP are all showing the same basic race, while Gallup is clearly a goofy outlier.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:02 AM

You would know all about goofy wouldn’t you? I like how you say the swing state polls are better one day and then when Obama is losing in them the next (like in today’s Rasmussen) you tout national polls.

MobileVideoEngineer on October 19, 2012 at 11:07 AM

“What this shows is that PPP, Rasmussen and IBD/TIPP are all showing the same basic race, while Gallup is clearly a goofy outlier.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:02 AM

You mean they’re showing it’s a dead heat….if you assume a D+4 or D+5 turnout on Election Day? Good luck with that happening.

Doughboy on October 19, 2012 at 11:05 AM”

What do you think the partisan split will be?

I think D+2 or D+3 is a safe bet.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:09 AM

I think D+2 or D+3 is a safe bet.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:09 AM

.
Is it safe ?

FlaMurph on October 19, 2012 at 11:12 AM

NumbersMuncher ‏@NumbersMuncher
Rasmussen has Romney up 5 in FL, 51-46. Taken post second-debate. Romney up 13 w/ indys. Was R+4 last week.
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gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:13 AM

I think D+2 or D+3 is a safe bet.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:09 AM

The Poll Troll Who Keeps on Spinning

spiritof61 on October 19, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Looking more and more likely 0 will only garner 43%.

Bmore on October 19, 2012 at 11:16 AM

gumbyandpokey is the dumbest commenter on HA.

Schadenfreude on October 19, 2012 at 11:16 AM

I think D+2 or D+3 is a safe bet.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:09 AM

If so that would mean your buddy is in trouble judging from those D+4, D+5, and D+7 (IBD/TIPP) polls that show the race tied.

Gingotts on October 19, 2012 at 11:17 AM

This split ain’t gon’ happen.

Chris Matthews’ face last night told the story. It’s over.

Schadenfreude on October 19, 2012 at 11:17 AM

OH, PA, WI wil fall to Romney.

Bmore on October 19, 2012 at 11:18 AM

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 9:24 AM

posting on ties now.you are desperate.

gerrym51 on October 19, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Most folks are realizing this, lest they be made of clay.

Bmore on October 19, 2012 at 11:20 AM

The big “problem” with the electoral college is that it completely eliminates the incentive for voter fraud in exactly the places where that fraud would be easiest.

It must be frustrating to do all the work of manufacturing fraudulent ballots in San Francisco or Chicago, only to have them make absolutely no difference in the Presidential election results.

ClintACK on October 19, 2012 at 11:20 AM

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:07 AM

gumby-based on your posts if gallup had obama up 52-45 you’d be

BLASTING IT OUT IN CAPITAL LETTERS!

capische!

gerrym51 on October 19, 2012 at 11:21 AM

“OH, PA, WI wil fall to Romney.

Bmore on October 19, 2012 at 11:18 AM”

All three go to Obama…

OH by 1-2 pts

WI by 2-3 pts

PA by 4-5 pts

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Looking more and more likely 0 will only garner 43%.

Bmore on October 19, 2012 at 11:16 AM

If Romney goes for the kill Monday and no Dogs Wag in the Middle East, I concur. 53%/43% in popular vote, 350+ EV Republican victory.

spiritof61 on October 19, 2012 at 11:22 AM

“gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:07 AM

gumby-based on your posts if gallup had obama up 52-45 you’d be

BLASTING IT OUT IN CAPITAL LETTERS!

capische!

gerrym51 on October 19, 2012 at 11:21 AM”

If Gallup was even in the same ballpark as the others, it would have some validity. But it’s nowhere close.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:23 AM

What do you think the partisan split will be?

I think D+2 or D+3 is a safe bet.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:09 AM

It’s certainly possible, but a best case scenario IMO. The intensity seems to be more with the GOP voters than the Dems right now. And I don’t see what can change that with only 18 days to go. Couple that with Mitt’s domination with indies, and that’s a tough margin for Obama to make up. Remember, it’s not the D+7 that gave him the election in 2008. It was that he won independent voters on top of that.

Doughboy on October 19, 2012 at 11:24 AM

If Gallup was even in the same ballpark as the others, it would have some validity. But it’s nowhere close.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:23 AM

Funny, I don’t believe that you were singing that same tune when Gallup was still doing RV showing a +7 for Obama and Rasmussen was showing anything from a +2 Obama, tie or +2 Romney. I think the claim then was that Gallup was great and Rasmussen was a partisan pollster.

opustx on October 19, 2012 at 11:33 AM

The big “problem” with the electoral college is that it completely eliminates the incentive for voter fraud in exactly the places where that fraud would be easiest.

It must be frustrating to do all the work of manufacturing fraudulent ballots in San Francisco or Chicago, only to have them make absolutely no difference in the Presidential election results.

ClintACK on October 19, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Bingo. That’s why the proggies hate it so.

slickwillie2001 on October 19, 2012 at 11:34 AM

All three go to Obama…

OH by 1-2 pts

WI by 2-3 pts

PA by 4-5 pts

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Hahahaha, if you honestly think PA and WI will be that close, then Ohio is NOT going to Obama. Hate to break it to you. Of course you have to say that though because you painted yourself into a corner by saying that whoever wins Ohio wins the Presidency.

MobileVideoEngineer on October 19, 2012 at 11:34 AM

“What do you think the partisan split will be?

I think D+2 or D+3 is a safe bet.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:09 AM

It’s certainly possible, but a best case scenario IMO. The intensity seems to be more with the GOP voters than the Dems right now. And I don’t see what can change that with only 18 days to go. Couple that with Mitt’s domination with indies, and that’s a tough margin for Obama to make up. Remember, it’s not the D+7 that gave him the election in 2008. It was that he won independent voters on top of that.

Doughboy on October 19, 2012 at 11:24 AM”

I agree that if Romney wins indies by 6-7 pts, then it would be tough for Obama to make that up without a big turnout advantage.

Election night will just be fascinating to watch.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Obama won’t win Oiho because they purged 450,000 dead voters from the rolls.

Dems always win the cemetary and zombie vote 100-0

Ergo, he lost 450,000 potential votes

txdoc on October 19, 2012 at 11:43 AM

Gallop would be an outlier if the others were also working their same demo – and they aren’t. Ras confuses me, he clearly is seeing the same enthusiasm that Gallup is picking up on on, and Gallop will swing hard on occasion, but then Ras has a +5 D model. SOrry, that just isn’t going to happen. I’m not sre why he is doing that, but he is. I really think overall D+1 or 2 is the best Obama can hope for. Gumb I used to think D+3, but here is one time where a debate did actually move something, rare I think but true. This is moving right harder than I expected. The CO profs who have been saying 330-210 Romney in the EC, I think are right, in fact it wouldn’t surprise me to see it worse. This is all very odd.

This would be consistent with Ras seeing movement towards Romney after debate 2, once Obama’s facade was broken, what happened in debate 2 just verified Romney, did nothing to fix the broken Obama facade.

Zomcon JEM on October 19, 2012 at 11:44 AM

or perhaps Cook thinks that Romney’s going to get massive margins of victory in California, New York, and Illinois.

This makes no sense.

newtopia on October 19, 2012 at 11:57 AM

gumbyandpokey is the dumbest commenter on HA.

Schadenfreude on October 19, 2012 at 11:16 AM

Axelfraud is strapped for cash. Good trolls don’t come nearly as cheap as Gumby does.

eyedoc on October 19, 2012 at 12:02 PM

I agree that if Romney wins indies by 6-7 pts, then it would be tough for Obama to make that up without a big turnout advantage.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:34 AM

You still don’t get it.

Obama is going to lose the ELECTION by 6-7 pts. Not just indies. The whole popular vote.

happytobehere on October 19, 2012 at 12:05 PM

What is this a slow news Friday? Don’t we have any phony jobs numbers to bandy about instead of this ridiculous slimestream media wishful fiction?

stukinIL4now on October 19, 2012 at 12:07 PM

I hope someone in the Romney campaign took note of the fact that in the second debate 0bama promised to pass a second “Assault Weapons Ban”, and stated that no weapon available to the military should be in civilian hands. (Goodbye, Remington 870.)

Barry also said many of those manufacturing jobs he is so in love with “are not coming back”, even for Hofstra graduates.

Because gutting the Second Amendment and admitting the assemply line jobs are gone for good will play so well in Ohio and Iowa.

MidniteRambler on October 19, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Marist polling has been off this whole cycle. No way Obama is spending precious time in Iowa at this point if he’s up by 8. Early voting is also tracking with 2004, when Bush won there.

changer1701 on October 19, 2012 at 10:01 AM

I would like to add, for the first time in 50yrs Iowa has more registered Republicans then Democrats. A lot has changed in Iowa since 2008. I do not plan on voting early and I know many others that will not. The Democrats are pushing early voting, so you see more Dems doing it, I also know many Dems that are voting for Mitt. Just because it is a Dem vote does not mean it is a Obama vote. State and Local Republican candidates are ahead of Democrat candidates, I do not see Barry winning Iowa no matter how many Dems vote early. Not going to happen.

IowaWoman on October 19, 2012 at 12:09 PM

And then even if he gets the miracle and gets Ohio, he needs NH, CO or IA.

That’s a much tougher road to victory than Obama has.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:31 AM

RCP just moved Colorado to the Romney column. All Romney needs is Ohio.

Resist We Much on October 19, 2012 at 12:21 PM

New PPP New Hampshire Poll

Romney: 49%
Obama: 48%

sentinelrules on October 19, 2012 at 12:21 PM

NumbersMuncher ‏@NumbersMuncher
New PPP (D) poll in NH has Romney up 1, 49-48. They had Obama up 6 in their last poll.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 12:22 PM

So gumballs fled to this thread? What’s the matter gumby? Couldn’t stand the beating in the other one?

wargamer6 on October 19, 2012 at 12:25 PM

In our entire history, it has happened exactly three times in 56 presidential election cycles. The last time was twelve years ago, but previous to that, one has to go back 124 years.

An Electoral College/Popular Vote split probably also happened in 1960, when there was said to be widespread fraud in Texas and Illinois.

It also almost happened in 2004 when Bush had a comfortable 3,000,000 vote majority in the popular vote, but nearly lost Ohio, which would have given Kerry the presidency.

But even if we don’t count these two near misses, three of the 43 people who have led this country became president in spite of the people clearly choosing the other guy. If that doesn’t bother you, you’re not paying attention.

Time Lord on October 19, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Teh heh

Schadenfreude on October 19, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Charlie Cook, among with many in Obama’s lapdog media, is wishcasting. At this point, they want an election that denies an all-but-inevitable Romney Presidency legitimacy and a governing mandate.

Jurisprudence on October 19, 2012 at 12:28 PM

Wow, these states are stupid aren’t they? They get all worked up about the whole popular vote versus the electoral college, yet they don’t realize that they are actually hurting their preferred candidate’s chances as all of those states that have it enacted into law all usually vote Democrat.

MobileVideoEngineer on October 19, 2012 at 10:52 AM
Actually, it makes sense for the big population states since the Electoral College is weight toward smaller population states. (Vote count being the number of reps + senators) A small population state like Wyoming gets three votes with a pop of 568,158 – one for about every 190k citizens California gets 55 with a pop. of 37,691,912 – one for about every 685k citizens

Animal60 on October 19, 2012 at 11:06 AM

The Founding Fathers established the Electoral College so that the rabble rousers from Boston wouldn’t elect the President every 4 years… it was the most populated city at the time…

The LSM thinks it will be close… not gonna happen, especially in the Electoral College…

Khun Joe on October 19, 2012 at 12:30 PM

What this shows is that PPP, Rasmussen and IBD/TIPP are all showing the same basic race, while Gallup is clearly a goofy outlier.

gumbyandpokey on October 19, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Speaking of goofy outliers…

PPP tracker readjusted for R+3 (where voter registration numbers are right now). 33% D, 36% R

O: 44.7, R: 49.5

Readjusted for even split. 36% D, 36% R

O: 46.0, R: 48.5

Readjusted for D+3. 36% D, 33% R

O: 47.0, R: 47.3

I believe Gallup is using a D+2 model right now, where everyone else is D+5 or worse. What qualifies as a goofy outlier when everyone is using bad internals?

NotCoach on October 19, 2012 at 12:35 PM

One item that is often forgotten is that many Electors are not legally bound to vote for the declared winner of their state.

So it would also require that all the unbound electors from the Electoral winner did not switch votes to the Popular Vote winner. If there was enough uproar, I could see some of them deciding that it would be better for the country to make the switch(at least if the R’s win the Electors, I cannot see any D putting nation over party).

With the odd rules on Elector voting, It could end up a Surprise Winner in early January when the votes are officially counted.

OBQuiet on October 19, 2012 at 12:36 PM

But even if we don’t count these two near misses, three of the 43 people who have led this country became president in spite of the people clearly choosing the other guy. If that doesn’t bother you, you’re not paying attention.

Time Lord on October 19, 2012 at 12:25 PM

It doesn’t bother me, and that number is actually 4. Adams became president in 1824 despite Jackson winning both the popular vote and the electoral college vote (with a plurality). We don’t elect our presidents through a popular vote, and for a large chunk of our history voters had no say in how electors were assigned. Technically any state could return to the model of having state legislatures assigning electors.

NotCoach on October 19, 2012 at 12:40 PM

OBQuiet on October 19, 2012 at 12:36 PM

That didn’t happen in 2000, so why would it happen today? Electors are typically very loyal to the ticket they are supposed to vote for, and I would find any vote changes to be the unusual exception. It just about never happens. Of the many thousands of electoral votes casts in our history we can count on one hand the number of times someone has switched their vote.

NotCoach on October 19, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Rasmussen – Missouri:

Romney 54
Obama 43

Romney +11

I know that MO has been trending more R over the last couple of cycles, but +11 is huge. McCain only won it by 0.1% in 2008.

Resist We Much on October 19, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Where did this gumby guy come from? I started seeing his posts all down every article post pertaining to polls.

BrianVII on October 19, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Where did this gumby guy come from? I started seeing his posts all down every article post pertaining to polls.

BrianVII on October 19, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Dunno, but RuPoll is a laffer when it comes to interpreting polling data. He has come here peddling polls from EcoNazi groups and others at times when the nationals are running against Obama. I’m waiting for his post that says:

By the way, did you see the new poll from Kim Jong-un POLLitech University? It has Obama up by 63 points nationally with a R +74. Oh, and the Castro-Guevara-Chavez Battleground Poll of the Swing States has Obama wiping Romney’s blood off the floor with a 75 point lead and has a sample of 2/3,798/468 (D/R/I).

Resist We Much on October 19, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Rassmussen has the popular vote within 1%. (Obama +1)
Rassmussen has Ohio within 1% (Obama +1%)
Rassmussen has the Electoral college within 2 votes, with 56 votes remaining in the toss-up category, and 7 states with only a 1% to 3% difference.
This election can easily go either way, and the electoral and popular votes could easily split.
It all comes down to voter turnout, and there really are no good models out there for predicting turnout.

topdog on October 19, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Correction:

Rassmussen has the popular vote within 1%. (Obama +1) tied
topdog on October 19, 2012 at 2:00 PM

topdog on October 19, 2012 at 2:04 PM

But even if we don’t count these two near misses, three of the 43 people who have led this country became president in spite of the people clearly choosing the other guy. If that doesn’t bother you, you’re not paying attention.

Time Lord on October 19, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Doesn’t bother me at all. What does bother me is the Senators being elected by popular vote in each state instead of being appointed as was the original intent. The change was NOT for the better.

Animal60 on October 19, 2012 at 5:39 PM

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