Currently, our President is running a point or so behind Mitt Romney in the average of national tracking polls. However, the president has maintained his lead in the projected electoral college tally consistently --- in fact, Nate Silver at 538 pointed out yesterday that the leads in EVERY state have not changed since June.
This raises a fun possibility: President Obama may win reelection with somewhere in the neighborhood of 280-300 electoral votes, while Romney receives more popular votes nationwide (mostly as a function of disproportional Southern hostility to the president).
Let's leave the teeth-gnashing and concern-trolling for the professionals, and get to the meat of this.
If this happens, it will open up the opportunity of a lifetime. For Democrats and President Obama.
If he wins reelection while getting less popular votes, President Obama should dedicate his second term to abolishing the electoral college through constitutional amendment. (Don't tell Rick Hertzberg, but the National Popular Vote compact is too easily repealed by a tipping-point state. Let's go whole hog with this hypothetical).
The president would give a speech (perhaps even his second inaugural?) wherein he gets deep on us. "We've played by the existing rules for more than two centuries, and they have generally served us well. However, the American people deserve the peace of mind of knowing that their leader has the support of a majority of their country. One person, one vote. Now, if we had run this past election under popular vote rules, I would have run a much different campaign, and I believe I would have received a majority of your votes nationwide. But we follow the rules that the Constitution gives us, and we abide by those results. Bush, etc."
Then he calls on the GOP to get on board this crusade, etc. He goes whole hog.
This puts the GOP in a bind. They are, no doubt, calling the Prez illegitimate since election day, and going to call him illegitimate every day until January 2017. If they DON'T support abolishing the electoral college now, how can they keep calling him illegitimate? He's offering the cure for the disease. Can they say no?
But of course if they decide to support electoral college abolition, they will take away the large disproportionate influence that rural states have enjoyed since the late 1700s. They will be giving away their built-in electoral advantage, for a long time.
Either way, the Democrats win.
AND (the best part). . .. . a national popular vote is the MORALLY RIGHT THING TO DO!!! It's small-d democratic. It levels the field for every voter. It makes voting rational again, for everyone. No more swing states, no more votes not counting. Every vote would matter.
So I'm actually kind of hoping for an Obama electoral college victory where Romney gets more popular votes. If we are ever going to abolish the electoral college, this is how it will happen.