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One of the most perplexing details in the bedeviling Gallup tracking poll is the huge disparity between how the South thinks of Romney and the rest of the country's opinion of the man.

Ezra Klein tweeted earlier today that he'd inquired of Frank Newport of Gallup if he was seeing a popular vote/electoral vote split. Newport's answer, in as many words: Yup.

So be it. Let's grab some maps and take a gander at those implications below the break.

Nate Silver, as of this morning

I took the liberty of making my own map based on Nate's most recent data and uploading it here...

Before any Nate-watchers wig out: The indicated EV numbers are "safe" seats for the respective candidates. This is the map that most Kossacks would treat as conventional wisdom - the baseline understanding of which states are in contention and which are not, and in which way the dice are currently rolling. It's a map with lots of possibilities for both campaigns.

Then Gallup comes along and pees in the progressive porridge. Or do they? It's one thing to say that Mitt Romney is currently up by seven points nationwide. It's a much different matter to say, well, ahem, cough, Romney's up +22 in the South and down between four and six points everywhere else.

Now, I'm not privy to Gallup's breakout of regions by state. I'm having to 'use the Force' in the following map, where I adjust Silver's forecasts and 'Gallupize' the map to reflect what Frank Newport is seeing: A world where the South is solidly red...and states you might not think of as being in play MAY be just that...

Well, well! Obama 260, Romney 211! A LOT of states that were in play are no longer in play... and this isn't necessarily awesome news for Republicans. So they get Florida and North Carolina. Virginia trends lean GOP. But looky elsewhere! Arizona, Missouri, the upper Great Plains... that is, if Gallup's got it goin' on.

Now, let's assign all the leaners to their respective parties...with one exception. It's the only state that matters, if you are Mitt Romney AND if Gallup is correct:

Ohio.

Here is the map if Ohio goes into overtime:

Obama 266, Romney 254! Talk about a nail biter! And even if he manages to bag New Hampshire AND Iowa (not likely), he still needs Ohio. Obviously, there are scenarios such as a win in Pennsylvania, but if that happens then it's just going to be a very, very long night for the blue team.

So, backing off the nightmare scenarios: What are we looking at here?

If Gallup's right, and if the Romney internals are comfortable with letting the South be the South, then doing things like pulling staff from North Carolina and putting them in Ohio make sense. Shutting down rather unsavory voter registration (read: pick and choose who gets to vote through selective registration, a rather criminal thing to do in most states) in Florida, Virginia, et cetera makes sense. Making a play at libertarians re marijuana legalization in Colorado makes sense as a side bet.

The point is, even now, we have the same situation as in August.

President Obama can lose a LOT of battleground states and still win.

Governor Romney essentially has to sweep the board - and take Ohio.

And on a side note this is my first adventure in using images in a diary. How'd I do? :)

 CORRECTION: It's Ohio and probably Iowa

Early on in this exercise I'd flubbed on Iowa, which PPP and my own back of envelope calcs suggest might not be as in the bag as thought. So Romney would indeed have to pick of Ohio AND one other small state.

The good news being, this is even better news - just not for John McCain. :)

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