It might not be as top of mind in the Emmy drama race as the recently concluded seasons of “Game of Thrones” or “Mad Men,” nor the soon-to-return “Breaking Bad,” but one could make a case that HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” has the broadest base of Academy support entering the 2012 vote.

A year ago, following its rookie season, “Boardwalk” delievered 18 nominations, trailing only miniseries “Mildred Pierce” (21) and “Mad Men” (19) among TV programs in 2011. Moreover, “Boardwalk” matched “Mad Men” by being nominated in 15 different categories, more than any other program except for “Mildred” (16).

Julianne Nicholson“Boardwalk” actually topped “Mad Men” in support from the non-acting branches, receiving nominations in 13 categories from art direction to visual effects, compared with nine non-peformer category noms for “Men.”   Both, of course, earned drama series nominations.

Despite isolated criticisms of its fifth season here and there, “Mad Men” is widely considered as safe a bet for an Emmy drama series nomination as there is — after all, it’s won the darn thing four years in a row. In comparison, “Boardwalk,” from the people I talk to, is considered more of a bubble show, looking to hold onto its 2011 spot in a tight competition that features the return of “Breaking Bad” from a year off and ballyhooed new drama entries “Downton Abbey” and “Homeland.”

Yet the second season of “Boardwalk” offered no noticeable creative dropoff from season one — in fact, I’m not sure it’s not considered a step up. Given the support it had from so many Academy camps last summer, would it be going to far to consider “Boardwalk” an Emmy drama series nomination lock?

Just to hedge my bets, here’s one reason it might not happen. Half of the 18 nominations “Boardwalk” drew in 2011 went specifically to the Martin Scorsese-directed pilot, so if the show was mainly riding his famous coattails, that could be a problem, especially if “Breaking Bad,” “Downton” and “Homeland” have their way with the different Academy branches.