A Split on Popular and Electoral College Vote Not Out of the Question

The map and the presidential polls appear to be diverging.

ByMeghan Keneally
November 01, 2016, 11:42 AM

— -- As the presidential race tightens in the last week of the campaign, the prospect of a split decision between the Electoral College and popular vote appears to be growing.

Trump earns 46 percent support nationally to Clinton's 45 percent, a difference within the margin of error, according to this morning's ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll.

Looking at the ABC News electoral map, however, Clinton still has the lead when it comes to the Electoral College breakdown.

With the five "toss-up" states -- Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Utah -- not included, Democratic and Democratic-leaning states combine for 279 votes in the Electoral College, while Trump has 180 in that scenario.

"The bottom line here ... is that Donald Trump needs to run the table - needs to win every single one of those toss up states - and even that won't be enough," ABC News White House correspondent Jon Karl said today on "Good Morning America."

If Trump wins the five toss-up states and the Republican and Republican-leaning states, he’ll be up to 259, which is still shy of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to secure the presidency.

So if the tracking poll proves accurate, and Trump has a higher popular vote result, but the electoral map stays the same, Clinton will still come out the winner.

The opposite scenario has a smaller possibility of happening.

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight wrote Monday night that Clinton has an 85 percent chance of winning the popular vote and a 75 percent chance of winning the electoral map, meaning that there is a chance that Trump could win the Electoral College and not the popular vote, but still winning the White House as a result.

While the probability seems unlikely, it has happened before. In the 2000 election, Al Gore won the popular vote and George W. Bush won the Electoral College, and after a month of deliberations, the Supreme Court ruled that Bush would take the White House after all.

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