Electoral college v. the popular vote


As we all wait to see how the election comes out on Tuesday, I can't help but wonder "what if."

What if the race for president ends up with one candidate winning the popular vote and the other winning the electoral vote? It's happened before - just 12 years ago when then-Gov. George Bush defeated Vice President Al Gore.

After a month of legal wrangling, Gore did the unthinkable. He walked away rather than put the country through a long, arduous recount after the Supreme Court ruled the election night count in Florida would stand.

It was an interesting flirtation. The term "hanging chad" is now part of the political lexicon. While we all like to make light of Gore taking credit for discovering the internet and many other things, on this he joins one of the smallest clubs in American history: Andrew Jackson in 1824, Samuel Tilden 1876, Grover Cleveland in 1888 and Al Gore in 2000. All won the popular vote for president but lost the election in those years. As Hoosiers, we have to point out that Cleveland lost to Benjamin Harrison in 1888.

Now on the eve of the election in 2012, I wonder if either candidate would accept that mantle or would they put the country through a long, drawn-out process?

We should note that Jackson would eventually serve two terms as president and Cleveland remains the only president to serve non-consecutive terms. He served four years before and after Harrison. Tilden and Gore stand as the only two to win the popular vote in the presidential sweepstakes but never serve in the office.

So now I wonder what lies ahead for the country in 2012. The will of the people will be exercised on Tuesday. Are these two candidates up to it? Is America up to it?