A tie in the Electoral College?

One possibility in the election:  Both candidates get 269 electoral votes, resulting in a tie.  From Napp Nazworth:

In a Thursday blog post, University of Virginia political scientists Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley point out that a tie in the electoral college, 269-269, is a real possibility.

For the Electoral College to end in a tie, Romney would win Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, and Virginia. Obama would win Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.

Given recent polls, this scenario is not hard to imagine. It shows each candidate winning states where polls show them polling slightly better than their opponent, with one exception — Nevada. Sabato, Kondik and Skelley point out that of all the states on the 269-269 map, Romney winning Nevada is the least likely.

According to Article II, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution, if the Electoral College is tied, the newly elected House of Representatives will choose the president with each state delegation getting one vote.

Given current projections for the U.S. House races, Kondik predicts that in a tie race Romney would become president. He would receive the votes of at least 29 state delegations, while Obama would receive the votes of at least 15 state delegations, and six state delegations would either be tied or too close to call.

via Presidential Race: Electoral College Outcome Could Be 269-269.

Theoretically, with an even 50 states, under those rules the House could also split 25 to 25.  We need to admit a 51st state fast.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    There’s also a possibility that Joe Biden, as president of the Senate, could cast the deciding vote for vice-president. I wonder whom he would pick?

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    There’s also a possibility that Joe Biden, as president of the Senate, could cast the deciding vote for vice-president. I wonder whom he would pick?

  • Cincinnatus

    An electoral tie is deeply unlikely. But it would be fun.

  • Cincinnatus

    An electoral tie is deeply unlikely. But it would be fun.

  • Steve Billingsley

    It would make the 2000 election look calm and orderly.

  • Steve Billingsley

    It would make the 2000 election look calm and orderly.

  • Cincinnatus

    Steve@3:

    Why does everyone say this? The constitutional provisions for breaking an electoral college tie are explicit and straightforward.

    2000 was a disorderly election because there was dispute about who actually won Florida–a situation for which clear constitutional provisions were not made.

  • Cincinnatus

    Steve@3:

    Why does everyone say this? The constitutional provisions for breaking an electoral college tie are explicit and straightforward.

    2000 was a disorderly election because there was dispute about who actually won Florida–a situation for which clear constitutional provisions were not made.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Cincinnatus @ 4
    I am not talking about the clear constitutional provisions. I am talking about the media circus and pundit hand wringing that would ensue. At the end of the day (just like 2000) we would have an orderly transfer of power (or retention of power) – but it would be a bitter and ugly one.

    Could you imagine what the election of 1876 would have looked like in today’s media culture?

  • Steve Billingsley

    Cincinnatus @ 4
    I am not talking about the clear constitutional provisions. I am talking about the media circus and pundit hand wringing that would ensue. At the end of the day (just like 2000) we would have an orderly transfer of power (or retention of power) – but it would be a bitter and ugly one.

    Could you imagine what the election of 1876 would have looked like in today’s media culture?

  • DonS

    Fortunately, there is no chance whatsoever of this scenario occurring. If Obama wins Ohio, Romney will not win Nevada or Iowa. You can look at the history of each swing state’s voting patterns compared to the national vote and have a pretty good idea where the line will be drawn. If the national vote were an absolute tie, Romney would win FL, CO, NC, and VA for sure, as they always vote more Republican than the national vote. Historically, he would also win OH, since it has voted at least slightly more Republican than the national vote, even in 2008, since at least 1976. He would not win IA, WI, NV, MI, NH, or PA, however, since they always vote more Democratic than the national vote.

    It’s a fun exercise, however, and it is good to know that the Founders arranged a solution for that unlikely eventuality.

  • DonS

    Fortunately, there is no chance whatsoever of this scenario occurring. If Obama wins Ohio, Romney will not win Nevada or Iowa. You can look at the history of each swing state’s voting patterns compared to the national vote and have a pretty good idea where the line will be drawn. If the national vote were an absolute tie, Romney would win FL, CO, NC, and VA for sure, as they always vote more Republican than the national vote. Historically, he would also win OH, since it has voted at least slightly more Republican than the national vote, even in 2008, since at least 1976. He would not win IA, WI, NV, MI, NH, or PA, however, since they always vote more Democratic than the national vote.

    It’s a fun exercise, however, and it is good to know that the Founders arranged a solution for that unlikely eventuality.

  • Justin

    How can this be? Are there not an odd number of electorates? 100 senators plus 435 congressmen.

  • Justin

    How can this be? Are there not an odd number of electorates? 100 senators plus 435 congressmen.

  • Joe

    Justin — Washington D.C. gets three electors in the electoral college so the total is 538.

  • Joe

    Justin — Washington D.C. gets three electors in the electoral college so the total is 538.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Statistician Nate Silver currently has the 269-269 scenario at less than 1% chance of happening.

    And Cincinnatus (@4), sure, while the instructions for what to do in such a situation are pretty clear (much more so than was the case in Florida in 2000), most people are still ignorant of those instructions, being hidden away in a musty old document somewhere. Heck, most people are still ignorant of the electoral college, as 2000 showed as well, I believe.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Statistician Nate Silver currently has the 269-269 scenario at less than 1% chance of happening.

    And Cincinnatus (@4), sure, while the instructions for what to do in such a situation are pretty clear (much more so than was the case in Florida in 2000), most people are still ignorant of those instructions, being hidden away in a musty old document somewhere. Heck, most people are still ignorant of the electoral college, as 2000 showed as well, I believe.

  • http://www.backgrinder.com Hola BackGrinder

    I doubt this, mainly because I can’t see Romney winning both Iowa and Nevada while losing both Wisconsin and Ohio. I blogged about my own electoral guesswork here, for what it’s worth: Electoral Projection

  • http://www.backgrinder.com Hola BackGrinder

    I doubt this, mainly because I can’t see Romney winning both Iowa and Nevada while losing both Wisconsin and Ohio. I blogged about my own electoral guesswork here, for what it’s worth: Electoral Projection

  • Andrew

    it would be safer to suggest that the LCMS start printing plenary indulgences than to propose a wholesale change to the electoral college system, so to follow on with the appointment of another state….

    suggestions for your 51st state:
    *subdivide one of the existing states :-)
    *propose taiwan becomes the 51st state (see how that would go down with china in terms of biting the tiger’s tail)
    *auction naming rights off to the highest bidder (McTexas?) (iMississippi?)

  • Andrew

    it would be safer to suggest that the LCMS start printing plenary indulgences than to propose a wholesale change to the electoral college system, so to follow on with the appointment of another state….

    suggestions for your 51st state:
    *subdivide one of the existing states :-)
    *propose taiwan becomes the 51st state (see how that would go down with china in terms of biting the tiger’s tail)
    *auction naming rights off to the highest bidder (McTexas?) (iMississippi?)


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