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According to WSU political scientist Mel Kahn, it's possible that President Obama or challenger Mitt Romney could win the popular vote in the upcoming election and lose the electoral vote.

Battleground states to determine presidential election

Monday, October 29, 2012

This WSU Newsline Podcast is available at http://www.wichita.edu/newslinepodcast. See the transcript below: 

You’re listening to the podcast edition of the Wichita State University audio newsline. Learn more about WSU on the Web at wichita.edu.

The presidential debates are history, but there’s still plenty of campaigning to do as President Obama and Mitt Romney sprint to Election Day. Many political pundits believe President Obama has a good chance of being re-elected, but the presidential election will ultimately be determined by several too-close-to-call battleground states, according to Wichita State University political scientist Mel Kahn.

Kahn: “In order to win, Romney absolutely has to win two of the three big electoral states that are in play, namely Florida, Virginia and Ohio. And it would even be better for him if he could win all three because of the advantage that Obama has.”

Kahn says Obama has one clear advantage heading into Election Day.

Kahn: “Since Obama can start out banking on the huge numbers of electoral votes in California, which amount to 55, and New York 29, that gives him 84 electoral votes right out of the gate.”

Kahn says it’s possible that a candidate could win the popular vote in the upcoming election and lose the electoral vote.

Kahn: “It is not inconceivable that the winner of the popular vote could lose the electoral vote, as occurred with Gore in the year 2000.”

So why does the United States use an electoral college to determine the presidential election? Kahn explains.

Kahn: “Originally there was real consternation about how we should elect our president. There were about 35 different plans that were offered. And the founders were also concerned about our federalism of representing states as entities unto themselves.”

According to Kahn, a presidential election based on popular vote would be problematic.

Kahn: “Basically, particularly when we have otherwise close appearing elections, we could have long litigation where each candidate would be trying to up its votes, and there always are errors, both intentional and unintentional.”

Kansas is expected to once again vote for the Republican ticket, but Kahn says Kansans should still get out and vote on Election Day.

Kahn: “There are other important races. In fact, what occurs at the state level has more impact on our everyday lives. Also, too, as far as the presidential race goes, Kansas did go Democratic in 1964, and so it is not just automatic that we’ll always have a Republican vote out of Kansas.”

Thanks for listening. Until next time, this is Joe Kleinsasser for Wichita State University.

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Created on Monday, October 29, 2012; Last modified on Monday, October 29, 2012