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What Happens if the Presidential Election is a Tie?



October 21, 2012 – Comments (2)

Has there ever been a Presidential Election Tie? And What Happens...

This may seem unfathomable, but presidential elections have ended in a tie before. In fact it has happened twice. The first time with Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr in 1800 and the second time ended in a tie with Andrew Jackson over John Quincy Adams in 1824, with Jackson eventually being named President. 

The election for the president is no doubt the most important of all elections in the entire world and the notion of an electoral college tie, in today's contentious political environment, would create a crisis that would make 2000 look like the sequel to the Parent Trap. 

What would the Electoral Map Look Like If Romney and Obama Tied?

If you look at the map below, you'll realize, it isn't out of the realm out of possibility, and I created this tie only using states that are legitimately considered swing states. 

1st Map of Electoral College Tie in Presidential Election.  

The main swing states to consider are Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado, Nevada, and New Hampshire. These were the only states that I was willing to alter. While there are a myriad of ways to create a tie in the electoral college, this is one of the only ones that creates a legitimate scenario where this could happen. 

For it to work out, Romney would need to win the big states in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio. The first three of which, he should win based on recent polling. Ohio is showing mixed signals for the state as one day he's up and the other day he's down. Essentially it is a tie in Ohio. But for the sake of this argument it, we're assuming it goes for Romney. 

Now if Romney was told before the election that he'd win FL, OH, NC, and VA, he'd pretty much assume that he won the election. So what gives? Hold on...we'll get to that in a bit. 

New Hampshire and Colorado has also begun to trend Republican, so that can logically fit in the Romney category as well.

But that is where it ends for Romney. Obama ends up taking the states he was was expected to take coming into this election with Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. 

Nevada has tightened up quite a bit latet in Mitt's favor, but for the purposes of this article, not quite enough. Iowa is another toss up, where similar to the Ohio situation, it depends roughly on what poll you are looking at for who is winning/losing. But there's plenty of polling data out there that says Obama  hasn't quite lost his grip on this state...yet. So we'll keep it blue. 

That leaves us with one state to consider, and that is the "Show Me State" of Missouri. 

This state has been considered to have one of the most accurate and diverse make-ups of any state in the union as it is a near reflection of United States' general population in terms of race and gender. Except for 2008, no President has ever one an election without carrying this state. 

Right now it is trending Republican and some are starting to shift it from Toss-up to Lean Republican, and while I do believe that it will ultimately go red, all that it takes is for a poor turnout in one segment of its population and a surge in another, and you could have Missouri in play. 

And in the case that Missouri goes for Obama, and everything else I laid out comes to fruition, then you have your electoral map tie. Not at all, out of the realm of possibility. 

Another scenario, which I find has less appeal is where Nevada, FL, NC, OH and NH goes for Romney, but CO, VA, WI and MI goes for Obama. This might seem a more likely scenario, but the likelihood that Nevada goes red but not Colorado, and Virginia goes blue but not Ohio, seems far more unlikely than a one state surprise in Missouri going into the Democrat's column. But you are free to disagree. 

2nd Map of Electoral College Tie in Presidential Election

What Happens If the Electoral College Ends In a Tie

While it would seem like a crisis, and it would based on the fact that much of society is unfamiliar with our Constitution and the provisions it lays out for such a scenario, the House would be called upon to vote for President, and the Senate would be required to name the Vice President, aassuming the electoral college ratifies the 269-269 tie (trust me, trying to get one of these electors when they meet on the second Wednesday in December to change is like trying to get Barney Frank to switch to the GOP - it isn't happening).

On the surface this may seem odd, but since the President of the Senate is the Vice President, it makes since that they would choose the VP, while the House, in which each member represents a smaller segment of society, would provide a deeper vote (435 votes in the House vs. 100 in the Senate) for who becomes President. 

In this case, you would have Mitt Romney your President and Joe Biden your Vice President. 

I guess you could say late-night commedy would get much more interesting.

2 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On October 21, 2012 at 8:35 PM, Melaschasm (71.42) wrote:

While theoretically possible in a two candidate race, a tie would almost have to include a third candidate picking some states.

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#2) On October 22, 2012 at 2:39 AM, awallejr (28.16) wrote:

Well personally I suspect that Ohio will determine this race. Tired of it being Florida.

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