Most of the electoral vote counters have swung in Barack Obama’s favor during the past week, but it still looks as if the presidential election will be close. In fact, there are at least two plausible scenarios for the candidates tying at 269 electoral votes each. That would happen if Obama won all the states John Kerry won in 2004, plus Iowa, New Mexico and Nevada, or if Obama won all the Kerry states except for New Hampshire, plus Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado.
The Constitution stipulates that the House of Representatives picks the president if no candidate wins 270 electoral votes, while the Senate picks the vice president. But it’s not a simple vote of the House members; they vote by state delegation.
I’ve been wondering how this would play out, and today I came across this excellent post at the Campaign Diaries blog that analyzes the chances for either Obama or McCain to win the necessary 26 state delegations.
Before I read that post I hadn’t realized that this scenario could happen even if the electoral college splits 270-268, if a “faithless elector” switches his or her vote away from the winner.
I encourage you to click through and read the whole post, but the Cliff’s Notes version is that Obama appears to have a better chance of winning 26 state delegations in the House than McCain does. It’s also possible that neither presidential candidate could win 26 state delegations:
What would happen then? Well, the 12th amendment states that if by the fourth of March the House has not agreed on a candidate, the vice-president would become president. And given that Senate Democrats would have long already elevated Joe Biden to the vice-presidency, that could mean a Biden Administration.
The funny thing is, I think I would prefer President Biden to either Obama or McCain. But let’s hope Obama wins with a clear mandate on November 4.