From: Tsegai Emmanuel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue Nov 04 2008 - 06:55:39 EST
Can Obama win popular vote but lose election? By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated
Press Writer Liz Sidoti, Associated Press Writer Mon Nov 3, 4:11 pm ET
WASHINGTON – It's a nightmare scenario for Democrats — their nominee Barack
Obama winning the popular vote while Republican John McCain ekes out
College victory. Sure, McCain trails in every recent national poll. Sure,
surveys show that Obama leads in the race to reach the requisite 270
electoral votes to win the presidency.
Sure, chances of Republicans retaining the White House are remote.
But some last-minute state polls show the GOP nominee closing the gap in key
states — Republican turf of Virginia, Florida and Ohio among them, and
Democratic-leaning Pennsylvania, too.
If the tightening polls are correct and undecided voters in those states
break McCain's way — both big ifs — that could make for a repeat of the 2000
heartbreaker for Democrats that gave Republicans the White House.
In 2000, Democrat Al Gore narrowly won the popular vote by 537,179 votes.
But George W. Bush won the state-by-state electoral balloting that
determines the presidency, 271 to 266. The outcome wasn't clear until a
36-day recount awarded Florida, then worth 25 electoral votes, to Bush by
just a 537-vote margin.
Before the 2000 election, political insiders had speculated just the
opposite, that perhaps Bush would win the popular vote but lose the
presidency to Gore.
One day before the 2008 election, Obama sat atop every national poll.
Enthusiastic by all measures, the Illinois senator's Democratic base was
expected to run up the score in liberal bastions of party strongholds such
as New York and California.
But the race appeared to be naturally tightening in top battlegrounds that
each candidate likely will need to help them reach the magic number in the
Electoral College, electoral-rich Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia
To win, McCain must hold on to most states that went to Bush in 2004, or
pick up one or more that went to Democrat John Kerry four years ago to make
up for any losses. McCain's biggest target for a pickup is Pennsylvania,
which offers 21 votes and where several public polls show Obama's lead
shrinking from double digits to single digits.
McCain faces a steep hurdle. Obama leads or is tied in a dozen or so
Bush-won states, and has the advantage in most Kerry-won states.
The Republican's campaign argues that as national surveys tighten, McCain's
standing in key states also rises and that, combined with get-out-the-vote
efforts, will lift McCain to victory in Bush states and, perhaps, others.
"What we're in for is a slam-bang finish. ... He's been counted out before
and won these kinds of states, and we're in the process of winning them
right now," Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, said Sunday.
Obama's team is awash in confidence.
"We think we have a decisive edge right now" in states Bush won four years
ago, said David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager.
There's still another possibility, perhaps more improbable than the first —
that McCain wins the popular vote while Obama clinches the White House.
True, Democrats have been fired up all year.
True, Republicans haven't been.
True, Obama and McCain have been faring about even among independent voters.
But there are signs that the GOP's conservative base has rallied in the
final stretch and these voters usually turn out in droves, even if lukewarm
on the candidate.
Then there's the question of a tie in the Electoral College. In that case,
members of the next House would select the winner.
If Obama carries every state that Democrat John Kerry won in 2004, plus
Iowa, New Mexico and Nevada, then he and McCain each would have 269
electoral votes. A tie also would result if McCain takes New Hampshire from
the Democrats' column but loses Iowa, New Mexico and another state that Bush
In an election year that's defied conventional wisdom time and again,
anything can happen.
(This version CORRECTS the margin of victory in the 2000 popular vote.)
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