A Split Decision?

Ezra Klein asked pollsters about the chances of an electoral college and popular vote split:

Most of the pollsters I spoke to seemed cautiously confident that we weren’t going to see a split between the electoral college and the popular vote. Such splits, they said, are very rare in American history, and they tend to be the result of extraordinary circumstances or electoral irregularities (like the “butterfly ballots” in Florida). Nevertheless, a split is, at the moment, what most of their polls are showing.

Karen Tumulty notes that an incumbent president has never "returned to office after the majority of the electorate voted to throw him out" and argues that a "win in the electoral college that is not accompanied by one in the popular vote casts a shadow over the president and his ability to govern." Josh Marshall pushes back:

This happened no more than twelve years ago for the first time in a century. Democrats were crushed and outraged. And in response to various suggestions that newly-inaugurated President George W. Bush would need to govern in a form of national unity government Bush responded by pursuing one of the most maximalist and aggressive agendas in recent American history.

The difference between a non-incumbent and an incumbent winning this way is no more than some sort of pseudo-fact. It quite simply is what it is. And having been perfectly happy with it twelve years ago Republicans would have no grounds for complaining now.