Sunday, November 2, 2008

The 269-269 Nightmare Scenario

Of all the silly quirks of the Electoral College, the fact that it can result in a tie is a most absurd, but very real scenario. This is due to the fact that the total number of electoral votes is an even number (538). Above is the electoral map from 2004. Here were the results:
  • George W. Bush: 286
  • John Kerry: 252
Now, most all of the current polls are showing Barack Obama comfortably ahead in the 2008 electoral vote race. However, it is very possible that with the polls tightening, as they usually do in the final days before an election, 2008 may not be the blowout some people expect.
Could Tuesday night end in a electoral vote tie?
Yes, and here's one path to that nightmare scenario. The map stays the same in 2008 from 2004 except:
  • Obama wins Iowa, Colorado, & New Mexico.
  • McCain wins New Hampshire.
What would happen next?
The election would be thrown into the Congress. The 111th House would vote on a one vote per state basis for president; the U.S. Senate, one vote per senator, would vote for VP.
The Nightmare Scenario

In 1796, due to a quirk in the electoral voting process, electors were mandated to vote for president and vice president without a separate ballot for VP. Though this was later fixed by passage of the 12th Amendment, John Adams (F-MA) and Thomas Jefferson (D-R VA) became president and vice president despite representing opposing parties and philosophies of the young republic. Four years of acrimony ensued.
Could this happen again? Although Democrats will doubtless have a clear majority of individual House members in the 111th Congress, the breakdown of party control of each state delegation is much harder to pinpoint. Take the current Ohio U.S. House delegation: GOP 11-Dem 7. If Dems take two GOP seats in 2008, which is very possible for OH-15 and OH-16, the delegation would be split 9-9. How would Ohio and other states that have evenly split delegations vote in the case of an electoral vote tie? And, what would be the national breakdown of party control of House delegations be following the 2008 election? If Republicans had a majority of state delegations and Dems had a majority of Senate seats (likely 5-9 after Tuesday), the country could be looking at a McCain-Biden presidency.

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