To me a pretty good rule of thumb is this: Yes, you could have a split between the popular vote and the electoral college. But in practice, it won’t happen. 2000 was an exception. The last time it happened before that was more than a century earlier.
But here’s some data that does make me kind of wonder. Check this out after the drop.
Gallup had some pretty eye-popping numbers this morning, showing Romney jumping to a five point lead nationwide. But look at this regional breakdown.
East - Obama +4
Midwest - Obama +4
South - Obama -22
West - Obama +6
Now the South is the biggest region. So the four regions aren’t equal. And you really can’t read that much into a poll like this that has this kind of regional breakdown. So this is at best suggestive. But it’s the first hint that suggests to me that the popular vote really could end up not matching the electoral college if Romney is banking that big a margin in one region.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.