Will Romney win the popular vote but lose the electoral college?

That unlikely prospect is on the minds of some pundits and Twitter users today:

David Jackson, writing in USA Today:

Expect to hear more and more talk that one of the presidential candidates could win more votes — but lose the White House because the opponent wins the Electoral College.

As it stands now, Mitt Romney leads President Obama in the popular vote — 47.7% vs. 46.7% — according to the average of polls complied by the RealClearPolitics website.

But, according to averages of polls in individual states, Obama right now leads in those states with a total of 294 electoral votes, compared with 244 for Romney, according to RealClearPolitics.

Well, anything is possible, of course, but this outcome doesn’t seem likely. If Romney does well enough nationally to win the popular vote, he’ll probably win enough toss-up states (e.g., Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire) to carry the electoral college, too.

Anyway, the rules are clear: Whoever wins the electoral college wins the election.

(It would be much more interesting if there is a tie in the electoral college. Very unlikely, of course, but theoretically possible.)

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