Saturday, October 11, 2008

A tie in the electoral college .. it couldn't happen .. could it?

I was playing with a very cool page on the LA Times website where you can click the swing states as red and blue and see what scenarios it takes for McCain or Obama to get 270 electoral votes and win. (By the way, where was this cool gadget in 2000 when Tim Russert was holding up his dry erase board on election night?)

Anyway ... I played it out and got the following result:

What the heck happens if this happens? Who/What/How do we decide a 269-269 tie in the electoral college?

Answer: The House of Representatives breaks the tie ... at least, that's what Google tells me. I know that we never learned this little trivia gem in history class because no one in history ever thought this could happen.

Of course, we never thought we'd see hanging chads in 2000 either ....



Jason said...

Hey Eric -

Plausible, yes, but not very likely. For the tie scenario to occur, as the state's appear today, McCain would need to win CO, OH, VA, NC, and FL.

Unless there's a dramatic environmental change, McCain runs a larger risk of losing those five states than winning them all.

Kelly Brown said...

Stranger things have happened -- but gee I hope note. The first 'W' election, the wild economic ride we're on -- i'm not sure our collective hearts could take another destabilizing test of our democratic process.

Anonymous said...

Eric--yes, the election gets thrown into Congress. The House votes for president with each state getting 1 vote. The Senate gets to vote for VP. In theory it would be possible that you could have a president of 1 party & a vp of the other (although that hasn't happened since the election of 1796).

What would be totally fascinating would be to watch what would happen in the Senate given the fact that Lieberman is supporting McCain this election & that Dems have a 51-49 edge because of him. Lieberman would hold all the cards...

Dave Cohen

Eric Mansfield said...

So Dave .. if that all happens, and the Senate gets to choose the V.P. .. and let's say the Senate is 50-50 on the new V.P., would the existing V.P. (in this case Cheney) be the one to break the tie in choosing the next V.P.?

What a crazy business politics is .. Eric

Anonymous said...

Eric--sorry it took my forever to reply.

Yes, as far as I know, VP Cheney would break the tie. An election has not been decided in the Congress since 1824 so I'm not 100% sure how it would work today. Here is what I think would happen. It is the new Congress but the lame duck White House that would be involved in this process. The 111th Congress would certify the electoral vote after being sworn in on January 3. The lame duck VP presides over this process--just as Gore over oversaw his own defeat in the 2000 election & Nixon oversaw his own defeat in 1960.

What a surreal experience that would be...

Dave Cohen
U. of Akron