Holy Crap! This Election Could Get Weird: An Electoral College Tie? Acting President Pelosi?

So, I’ve been looking through polls lately, and the way it stands now, if Obama holds all the states he currently has, and McCain picks up all the tossup states, we’d have an Electoral College tie (assuming that all the electors keep their promise to vote for their party).

Let’s look at the map (courtesy of my favorite election website, the U.S. Election Atlas) of the current polls (note, that first link may be different than the image below.  That link goes to the updated version of the polls.  The image below is an image that I created inputting the different numbers):

Electoral Votes:
Obama: 269
McCain: 212
Tossup: 57

Now, these are the averages of the last 3 polls.  I have a couple disagreements with the polls:

  • Pennsylvania is not slight Obama.  I think it should be Lean Dem.
  • Michigan is not Lean Dem.  It should be slight Dem.  There was a recent poll that had Obama way more ahead than he really is, and I think it’s skewing the results.
  • Florida isn’t Slight Rep.  I think it’s Lean Rep.
  • West Virginia isn’t Slight Rep.  It should also be Lean Rep in my opinion.
  • I don’t think Minnesota is Slight Dem.  I think it should probably be Lean Dem.
  • Montana should be Strong Rep not Lean Rep, but there were a couple polls throwing that off.
  • Nevada should probably be Slight McCain in all honesty, but I’ll talk about that later.

Other than that, I agree with this map.  So, let’s take a look at the tossup states:

  • Nevada: Although it’s close, most recent polls have shown McCain with a slight lead here.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that switches over to slight McCain in the next 3 days (whenever a poll comes out).  It’s really only a tossup because of an ARG (American Research Group) poll, and they’re a pretty crappy polling firm.  My call: McCain +5.  That puts him at 217.
  • North Carolina: Freakishly close lately, and it’s a state that we wouldn’t expect to be close.  However, I think this’ll trend back toward McCain as we get closer to Election day.  My call: McCain +15.  That puts him at 232.
  • Virginia: Similar to Nevada, most polls have shown McCain with a lead here.  I think we simply have some outliers, and as more polls come out, we’ll see that swing back to Slight McCain.  My call: McCain +13.  That puts McCain at 245.
  • New Hampshire: Most polls have had Obama winning, but recently it’s been trending toward McCain, and then McCain took the lead (granted one of those was an ARG poll, so we can ignore one of the three that had McCain winning).  This may be more of a gut feeling than actual math, but I think New Hampshire will go for McCain.  My call: McCain +4.  That gives him 249.
  • Ohio: Now, here’s the exciting one.  This has been by far the closest state in this election.  Polls have had Obama and McCain ahead of each other, as well as simply tied.  Trying to call this right now is really probably a shot in the dark, but because McCain has an ever so slight lead here, I’m going to make my call: McCain +20.  That would give McCain 269.  And the two are now tied.

I think we need to talk a little more about one last state: Michigan, my home state.  Although it’s not this way on the map, I said that I think Michigan is the only Slight Obama state.  I think it’s the only current Obama state that could be in play.  With a rough economy, a lot could happen, and the economy has been effecting Michigan the worst.  If Michigan were to go for McCain, McCain could then afford to lose either North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia, or Nevada and New Hampshire.  If he won Michigan, but lost Virginia and New Hampshire (also a very good possibility), we would once AGAIN have a tie.

So, what’s my honest prediction?  I’m glad you asked.  I’ll show you (since this’ll get outdated, I’m sure, here’s a link to my prediction page, which will have my latest prediction on it):

Percentages:

Electoral Votes:
Obama: 269
McCain: 269

 

Confidence:

Electoral Votes:
Obama: 252
McCain: 227
Tossup: 59

 

So, what would happen if my prediction comes true?

  1. Assuming that we don’t have any faithless electors (electors who don’t vote the way they’re supposed to), and I don’t think we will–any faithless elector is pretty much asking to be assassinated: The vote would go to the House of Representatives.  But they do things kinda funky when they vote.  They don’t vote individually, they vote by state delegation, so it’s winner take all, but the Representatives decide, not the voters.  Here’s a map of the current House:

    The Republicans hold 21 of those, the Democrats hold 27, and 2 are tied.  You need 26 to win (50 states, so 1 more than half).  Obama wins, right?  Well, hold on a minute.  There’s a couple of things we have to keep in mind:

    1. Alaska could easily be won by the Democrat this year.  That’d be one more for Obama.
    2. Arizona, a tied state, could easily go to the Republican side.  Even if it doesn’t, a Democrat may be swayed to vote for the “home state boy.”  I’m pretty confident that we can add Arizona to McCain’s pile.  McCain has 22.
    3. Indiana could easily go over to the Republicans.  For now, I’ll keep Indiana in Obama’s pile.
    4. So, we have Obama with 27, McCain with 22, and 1 tie.  I think Kansas would go for McCain, making it 27, 23.  Obama wins, right?  Again, slow down.
    5. 4 of Obama’s delegations are in the south.  I don’t see the Tennessee, North Carolina, or Mississippi delegations voting for an African American.  That makes it Obama 24, McCain 26.  McCain wins.  However, there are enough Democrats in Mississippi that there’s an EVER SO SLIGHT possibility that it’d go for Obama.  That leaves us at 25-25.
  2. If we get to 25-25, they’d keep voting.  If they never break the tie…
  3. While the House was voting on President, the Senate would have elected the Vice-President, and we’d have acting President Biden/Palin.  As it stands now, it’d probably be a tie.  You have 49 Democrats and 49 Republicans, plus Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT).  Sanders votes with the Democrats (he caucuses with them, so he would vote with them on this).  Lieberman, who caucuses with the Democrats votes for McCain.  I don’t doubt this, he’s endorsed him.  That gives us 50-50. 
  4. We then have acting President Nany Pelosi, since Speaker of the House is next in line.  Scary, I know.
  5. One litle note I forgot to put in here – the House has until March 4th to come up with a President.  If they don’t by then, then the acting President (whether that be the VP choice that the Senate made or the Speaker of the House) becomes the President.

Not only is this scenario extremely complicated, it’s historically unprecedented, but it actually has a decent chance of happening.  I shudder to think that Pelosi could be President, but this would be one heck of a story for the history books.

I’ll hopefully becoming out with Predictions once a week, as more polls and details come in, and as we get closer to the election.  I’ll also be covering the debate tomorrow night, live, so come back here for lots more election fun.

Done Hypothetically Situating,

Ranting Republican
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5 Responses to “Holy Crap! This Election Could Get Weird: An Electoral College Tie? Acting President Pelosi?”

  1. inkslwc Says:

    Comment left on the Facebook version of the blog post:

    umm wow. yeah. that is some scary stuff, and something i’ve kinda thought about the last month or so. thanks for putting it into lamens terms.

  2. Chetly Zarko Says:

    I’ve written something on this scenario in the context of an alternative scenario of 2000 (imagine Florida’s delegation simply not be counted – something theoretically within the power of each chamber by vote, although the Supreme Court might pass judgment on that — or imagine one or two defectors from Bush).

    The “acting President” Pelosi could happen, but both chambers could at anytime during her “term” vote (presumably deals could be cut, etc.) to empower either a permanent VP (becoming acting P until the “next deal” by the House) or P. Such a deal-making environment could easily have produced “Bush-Leiberman” or Gore-Cheney, and now could result in McCain-Biden or OBama-Palin. I guess you could also have a situation where Pelosi’s vote is lost (as acting president, does she lose her position in the House?) and that changes the mix in a second vote – although California is so solidly Dem it shouldn’t. Obviously, a “quick” vote by the House for McCain before the Senate voted but after January 20 could also change the balance for the V-P vote, giving the Dems a 50-49 edge (I’m not sure whether they need 51 or not, but the Democratic (Janet Napolitano) Arizona Governor might appoint a Dem quickly to put them at 51, or some deal worked out). That’d create McCain-Biden. A quick ascent of Biden to VP wouldn’t change anything because Biden would leave but the VP would be filled. I’m not though – are you sure the Senate vote is “straight” or is not also like the House – delegation=1vote. In that case, there would be lots of ties.

    The odds of this happening, according to fivethirtyeight.com and another data blog (forgetting the site) are probably still only a few in a thousand – less than 1%. And it would have to happen without the Republicans get thwapped further in the Sen or House.

  3. Chetly Zarko Says:

    PS – Biden-Palin is impossible. The Senate’s confirmation of Biden makes him the permanent-VP/Acting President. The Senate, once its choice is made, has no constitutional power to appoint a second vice-president. Once a chamber fulfills its duty to confirm the permanent president, I believe it is done on that front. The seat I believe would remain open (since the only important seat to fill in the Constitutional process is the presidency, the VP is more of a place-holder), but if it were filled it would only be by an acting VP from below, which would be Pelosi.

  4. inkslwc Says:

    The Senate vote is a straight vote, not by state delegation.

  5. Wilburn Schur Says:

    I’m sustaining a bit of trouble reading the conclusion of the article. The last paragraph gets interrupted halfway through. You should have a look at that.However, the rest of the read was extraordinary!

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