On local public radio I just heard a journalist from Maine theorize that Sarah Palin might be extremely popular in the state's wilderness-y west, which is filled with hunters, fishers and other non-crunchy sporting types. (Heck, they even hunt moose out there!) Maine divides its four electoral votes by congressional district, and while Obama appears to be crushing McCain statewide, this guy thought Palin might allow McCain to steal two of those votes [correction: the 2nd CD has just one vote] out west.

Worth bearing in mind on a day when Mark Penn reminds us of the plausibilty of a 269-269 tie scenario:

By my count, the electoral map now puts the race almost dead even but leaning slightly toward Barack Obama, with 273 electoral votes in his column. Obama has several alternative roads to the White House — both through the Midwest and the Southwest. Ohio would give Obama a solid margin of victory, but he can win without Ohio by putting together Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado to secure 21 electoral votes. He is now ahead in those states, in double digits in Iowa.

But if Obama loses Ohio and wins the others, New Hampshire becomes a critical state. A loss there (where John McCain has considerable popularity) would create a deadlock — 269 to 269, not at all an unlikely end to an unlikely political season.

Update: Or, 269-269 again if Omaha is enough to let Obama steal an electoral vote in Nebraska, which has a similar vote-split scheme. "Omaha for Obama" has a nice ring to it, although it looks like a real longshot.

Finally, a quick refresher on what a tie means: It goes to the House. But it's not one member, one vote. Instead, each state's delegation gets one vote, which is first determined by an internal vote within that state's delegation. Tied delegation votes nullify that state's vote. And it's the incoming House that votes--the people elected this November, that is--not the sitting House. God help us if it comes to that.

--Michael Crowley