ELECTORAL COLLEGE TIE?

Presidential Electoral College Tie Not Impossible

As the election rapidly approaches in this closely divided country, there is much discussion about the various Electoral College vote scenarios and the combination of states that Barack Obama or John McCain need to win.

What if the Electoral College were to end in a tie at 269 electoral votes apiece? This is not an unrealistic election scenario. Therefore, the maintenance of a strong Democratic majority in the House could develop into the most important aspect of the 2008 campaign. The Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution says that, in the event of a tie, the presidency is decided by the vote of the members of the House of Representatives, and the vice presidency is determined by the Senate. A hard look at the electoral map, as it is shaping up in 2008, shows that the work done by the NCEC to protect and expand the Democratic congressional majority may make our 60th year our most important.

Electoral College Tie Scenario is Not Far-Fetched

The number of Electoral College votes needed to win is 270. But, what if each candidate wins states totaling 269 votes? While it seems improbable, only a few changes in the Electoral College vote could lead to exactly that conclusion. For example, if Barack Obama were to achieve his goal of carrying the new swing states of Colorado , and Virginia, where he has been holding small leads over the past couple of months, but loses in the traditional swing states of Florida, Michigan, and Ohio, then a tie vote becomes very possible. A tie scenario vote would also require Obama loses Indiana, Missouri, Montana, and North Carolina, all competitive states that currently lean Republican. An average polls taken in these battleground states shows that a tie is possible. As the map below shows, Michigan and North Dakota would need to move to the McCain column for the race to end in a tie.

State Obama McCain

Colorado

45.3% 45.0%

Florida

44.8% 47.0%

Iowa

51.3% 42.3%

Indiana

43.5% 49.5%

Michigan

46.3% 44.0%

Minnesota

49.3% 42.3%

Missouri

42.0% 50.0%

Montana

46.0% 49.9%

Nevada

44.2% 44.9%

New Hampshire

46.5% 45.5%

New Mexico

47.3% 43.0%

North Carolina

43.0% 47.0%

Ohio

43.6% 44.2%

Oregon

50.0% 43.5%

Pennsylvania

47.3% 42.8%
Virginia 46.0% 46.0%

Wisconsin

47.3% 41.3%

The only other time in American history when the House of Representatives decided the presidential election was in 1824, when four different presidential candidates failed to win a plurality of electoral votes. In that year, the presidency was awarded to John Quincy Adams, a candidate who didn’t win the most electoral votes in the general election, but won because of his popularity in the House. While this history is pre-modern, its lessons are applicable in 2008. Only a strong Democratic majority, large enough to withstand possible defections, could ensure that Barack Obama would win the presidency if it were decided by the House. Some members might feel obliged to vote consistently with the popular vote in their districts. In fact, when looking at the last two presidential elections, the defection factor becomes worrisome. Currently, there are 68 House Democrats that represent districts that voted for President Bush in 2000 or 2004. Conversely, there are only 16 House Republicans that represent districts that voted for either Al Gore or John Kerry. As the specter of a tie vote looms, NCEC is forced to think about every last seat to elect the largest Democratic House majority possible.

Voters in Swing States Could Swing the House Majority

The all-important “swing states” are more numerous this year than in the recent past. The presidential race in these states could have a profound effect on the size of the Democratic majority in the House. In nearly every state that has achieved NCEC’s “battleground” or “swing state” status in the presidential election, there are competitive House races that, if won, could significantly expand the size of the Democratic majority. As of now, NCEC considers Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin to be swing states in the presidential election. In these states, the NCEC can identify at least 34 competitive races. Of these races, 9 involve Democratic incumbents, and 25 are considered vulnerable Republican seats. From these states alone, the Democratic House majority could be significantly increased.

 

District

Democratic Candidate

Republican Candidate

CO-04

Betsy Markey

Marilyn Musgrave

FL-08

Alan Grayson

Ric Keller

FL-13

Christine Jennings

Vern Buchanan

FL-16

Tim Mahoney*

Tom Rooney

FL-21

Raul Martinez

Lincoln Diaz-Balart

FL-24

Suzzane Kosmas

Tom Feeney

FL-25

Joe Garcia

Mario Diaz-Balart

IN-02

Joe Donnelly*

Luke Puckett

IN-09

Baron Hill*

Mike Sodrell

MI-07

Mark Schauer

Tim Walberg

MI-09

Gary Peters

Joe Knollenberg

MN-01

Tim Walz*

Brian Davis

MN-03

Ashwin Madia

Erik Paulsen

MO-06

Kay Barnes

Sam Graves

MO-09

Judy Baker

Blaine Luetkemeyer

NC-08

Larry Kissell

Robin Hayes

NH-01

Carol Shea-Porter*

Jeb Bradley

NM-01

Martin Heinrich

Darren White

NM-02

Harry Teague

Ed Tinsley

NV-02

Jill Derby

Dean Heller

NV-03

Dina Titus

Jon Porter

OH-01

Steve Driehaus

Steve Chabot

OH-02

Victoria Wulsin

Jean Schmidt

OH-07

Sharen Neuhardt

Steve Austria

OH-15

Mary Jo Kilroy

Deborah Pryce

OH-16

John Boccieri

Kirk Schuring

PA-06

Bob Roggio

Jim Gerlach

PA-08

Patrick Murphy*

Tom Manion

PA-10

Chris Carney*

Chris Hackett

PA-11

Paul Kanjorski*

Lou Barletta

VA-02

Glenn Nye

Thelma Drake

VA-10

Judy Feder

Frank Wolfe

VA-11

Gerry Connolly

Keith Fimian

WI-08

Steve Kagen*

John Gard

*Democratic Incumbent    

 

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