Wednesday, a full 140 days before Election Day 2012, ABC News's political reporters sat down with former ABC News President David Westin to discuss an important question: "Could the Bush-Gore election mess happen again?" They were focused on the mess provided by news organizations that wrongly called the election, but the broader question -- could the election end up so close that we wouldn't know whether Obama or Romney won -- has been on the minds of many a political pundit this month, and no wonder. Election nights are like a political reporter's Super Bowl. Everyone's watching, and in 2000, everyone watched for 36 full days of overtime as the Bush-Gore mess got sorted out. We usually refer to such an event as an "absolute nightmare scenario" or "one of these electoral college nightmares" "the country's worst nightmare," but let's be honest, this is the stuff pundit-dreams are made of, as evidenced by the election snafu's enduring legacy, which at this point seems to be an endless pondering of unlikely electoral college scenarios. For in every election to follow 2000, pundits have wondered, could a Bush-Gore tie happen again and throw us into a month of rapt CNN-watching? Here's a spoiler alert: Such articles are usually filled with complex number crunching and long on speculation but the answer is always some form of "Yes! But it probably won't!" A close election is always theoretically possible!
In 2012, as President Obama faces Mitt Romney The Guardian's Harry Enten's long answer to the same question, which he asked last month: "Most polls of this year's presidential election are closer than 4 points. That suggests that there is at least some chance that one of these candidates could win the popular vote, but not the electoral college." Short answer: there's a chance!