Many U.S. voters were outraged in the 2000 presidential election when Bush Jr. won despite losing the popular vote. But Britain's electoral map is even weirder. After a spectacular TV debate performance by the leader of the Liberal Democrats–traditional also-rans in UK general elections–the three main parties are nearly tied in polling. And yet still the Lib Dems would win only half the seats in parliament scored by either of the other two parties; and Labour, behind the other two in the polls, would win by far the most.
A Sun newspaper poll, carried out after the TV debate, suggests Labour are in third place on 28% (down 3%), with the Lib Dems on 30% (up 8%) and the Conservatives 33% (down 4%). Applying the figures from The Sun poll, which came from a YouGov survey of 1,290 people, to the BBC News website's election seat calculator, results in the following: Labour 276 seats; Conservatives 245 seats; Lib Dems 100 seats; Others 29 seats.
The BBC has a neat web app that illustrates the problem. For example, for each of the three parties to win 207 seats in Parliament, the Lib Dems would have to get 37.4% of the vote, the Conservatives 30%, and Labour only 24.5%.