There’s a story in the Politico exploring the possibility that Barack Obama could win the popular vote but lose the electoral vote. The scenario: Obama racks up more votes in states like North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Indiana but John McCain still wins them narrowly; McCain flips Michigan and New Hampshire, making up for the states Obama flips. The 2000/2004 map largely holds even though Obama wins most of his states big while McCains wins a number of his states by slim margins.
It’s possible, though if Obama can get that close I would have to think his superior organization and fired-up base could tip a few more states than this scenario predicts. For those of us who would like to keep the Electoral College, it would not be a good development. The Democrats have unseriously been suggesting scrapping the Electoral College since at least the Carter years. Two Republican presidents who lost the constitutionally irrelevant popular vote in eight years would turn abolition into a major Democratic cause.