FiveThirtyEight: 11%(!) Chance of Obama Winning EV, Losing PV

cross-posted as a diary at Daily Kos

OK, I know in this post/diary I wrongly put the focus on the election results themselves rather than how we Obama supporters can improve his chances of winning in these last 49 days. But this is important …

Have any other regular readers of (DK user poblano, aka Nate Silver) noticed the projected chance of Obama winning the electoral vote while losing the popular vote has shot dramatically upward in the past several days from three or four percent to 11.42%? That’s a pretty significant possibility in my opinion.

I suspect the Republicans have contingency plans in place for this scenario just like they did in 2000. That is, I suspect the GOP and their enablers in the media would try to influence public opinion in favor of overturning the Electoral College result. Remember their plans in 2000? You might not because, of course, it was not George Bush but Al Gore who won the popular vote — and then all hell (Florida) broke lose.

To refresh your memory, here are some excerpts from a piece from, published just three days after the 2000 election:

In the days before the Nov. 7 election, Republicans feared that Vice President Al Gore might win the Electoral College while Texas Gov. George W. Bush could win the national popular vote. …To stop Gore under those circumstances, advisers to the Bush campaign weighed the possibility of challenging the legitimacy of a popular-vote loser gaining the White House.

“The one thing we don’t do is roll over — we fight,” said a Bush aide, according to an article by Michael Kramer in the New York Daily News on Nov. 1, a week before the election.

The article reported that “the core of the emerging Bush strategy assumes a popular uprising, stoked by the Bushies themselves, of course. In league with the campaign — which is preparing talking points about the Electoral College’s essential unfairness — a massive talk-radio operation would be encouraged.” …

“Local business leaders will be urged to lobby their customers, the clergy will be asked to speak up for the popular will and Team Bush will enlist as many Democrats as possible to scream as loud as they can,” the article said. …

The Bush strategy also would target the members of the Electoral College … Many of the electors are not legally bound to a specific candidate. …

Another article describing the Republican thinking appeared in The Boston Herald on Nov. 3. It also quoted Republican sources outlining plans to rally public sentiment against Gore’s election if he won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote.

The Bush camp, sources said, would likely challenge the legitimacy of a Gore win, casting it as an affront to the people’s will and branding the Electoral College as an antiquated relic,” said the article by Andrew Miga.

“One informal Bush adviser, who declined to be named, predicted Republicans would likely benefit from a storm of public outrage if Bush won the popular vote but was denied the presidency,” the article said. [emphasis mine]

I don’t know about you, but I would feel better knowing the Obama campaign would have effective plans in place to counter any such Republican efforts this year. The objective would be to cement in the public’s mind the inevitability of Obama’s ascendance to the White House. That’s what the Republicans were able to successfully do for Bush during the 2000 Florida recount fiasco. Any campaign insiders here know whether/how the campaign is planning for this distinctly possible outcome? I think the campaign cannot afford not to be proactive on this issue — although I admit it wouldn’t be a good idea at this point for them to tip their hand.

But if they were to tip their hand, what might such plans entail? Here are a few obvious ideas:

  • Identify key Republican congresspeople known to respect the Constitution and ask them to speak out against their party’s attempt to subvert the Founding Fathers’ intent. Try to get them writing op-eds and booked on talk shows. (The trouble with this suggestion, of course, is that there may not be any such Republicans. Or at least none willing to speak publicly against their party’s misguided initiative.)
  • Arm key Democratic congresspeople with talking points around the theme that the Republicans are attempting to subvert the Founding Fathers’ intent and steal the election. Get the congresspeople booked on talk shows. Have them write op-eds.
  • Encourage pundits known to be sympathetic to devote their airtime and column space to rebutting the Republicans.

The suggestions I’ve made above might not be sufficient. The GOP-loving media machine, as we all know, is powerful and pervasive. The Obama campaign may need to get more creative. One possibility would be for the campaign to hold victory rallies in the days following the election, especially in red states. Let’s help the campaign with this planning: Add your most creative suggestions to the comments.

But don’t linger on this issue too long. Your time is obviously better spent at this point phonebanking, canvassing, and registering voters. Let’s do what we can to make Obama’s victory margin big enough to render this issue moot.

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3 comments so far

  1. Gina on

    Repub contingency plan #2: Bomb something. How do we prepare for that?

  2. QC on

    Good question.

    I look at it as

    #2A: If Obama appears headed to victory, bomb something (scary)

    #2B: If Obama wins, bomb something (very scary)

  3. susan on

    The current system does not reliably reflect the nationwide popular vote. The statewide winner-take-all rules makes it possible for a candidate to win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections.

    In the past six decades, there have been six presidential elections in which a shift of a relatively small number of votes in one or two states would have elected (and, of course, in 2000, did elect) a presidential candidate who lost the popular vote nationwide.

    Nationwide popular election of the President is the only system that makes all states competitive, guarantees that the candidate with the most popular votes nationwide wins the Presidency, and makes every vote equal.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 21 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes — 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


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