What happens if there is no Electoral College majority?Submitted by samadamscw on Thu, 09/13/2012 - 23:31
Barring some sort of recount legal fight like what happened in 2000, there are only two "normal" ways of not having a clear Electoral College winner when the votes are unsealed and read on January 6th, 2013.
#1 - is for there to be enough candidates with enough support, that more than 2 candidates win Electoral Votes. This requires that either a 3rd candidate win at least one state, or, win at least one Congressional District in either Maine or Nebraska since those states award two at-large votes, and one each by Congressional District.
So far, the only candidate within striking distance of this feat, and it is a very far distance at the moment, is Libertarian Gary Johnson. However, Johnson has no strategy to win ANY Electoral Votes, a very curious strategy since that is the only way to win the Presidency.
Regardless, should his supporters manage it anyway, or should he change his mind and target a few States and win their votes, if Obama or Romney doesn't have 270, then there is no majority.
#2 - "faithless electors" regardless of who they are supposed to support, may decide to vote for someone else instead, thus in a close race, it might be possible for only two or three electors to prevent a majority. This is the more likely scenario, though it requires the Electors be in just the right states, and that the other votes be nearly equally divided between Obama and Romney.
So what happens then?
The Constitution lays out a contingency. It has only happened 2 times in history(1800 & 1824), though it was intended to happen nearly every time when it was set up.
The House of Representatives will choose the President.
They will choose amongst the top three candidates receiving Electoral Votes. (originally, it was 5)
They will cast their vote by State.
Thus, it does not matter absolutely, which party has more members in the House, but rather in how many States do they hold the majority of the delegation?
Now, the members that would have to cast this vote are the NEWLY elected House members, not the current Congress. But since we don't know exactly who that will be yet, we'll just have to look at where things stand now to get a glimpse of what might happen.
Currently, Republicans hold the majority in 33 State delegations to the House.
Democrats hold majorities in 14.
There are 3 states that are tied. (Minnesota is an actual tie, New Jersey and Washington are tied each with a vacant seat. Presumably, they will not remain tied after this election) It could easily be expected that both New Jersey and Washington would shift Democrat, but that is not certain.
Likewise, there are 5 states where Republicans hold majority by one member, and 3 where Democrats hold such a slim lead.
There are also 4 states where a Republican is the ONLY member from that state and 2 States where a Democrat is the only member.
This means, in order for Obama to win in such a scenario, the Democrats would not only have to hold on to all of their present State majorities, but they'd have to take EVERY Republican slimly held State AND all three currently tied States. If they fail to do this in all but ONE State, there would be a tie in the House, and lots of deal making would ensue. Eventually, either the VP would take office until the House could come to a decision, or if none were chosen yet, the Speaker of the House would be offered the job. (if they fail in more than one state, Romney wins)
Now, the VP decision is a bit different.
The Senate picks the VP. (This has happened only once in history - 1836.)
But in this case, each Senator gets one vote, AND they only choose between the top TWO Electoral College vote getters for Vice-President.
Thus, since the Senate is controlled by the Democrats, and this is not likely to change after this election, most likely, Joe Biden would remain VP.
However, since Republicans control 33 State House delegations, and only 26 are needed to win, most likely, Romney would be the next President.
The Green Papers shows the current House makeup by party: http://www.thegreenpapers.com/G12/composition.phtml
So what does this have to do with Ron Paul?
Currently, there is a news story about "faithless electors" wanting to send a message to the GOP that they can't bully the grassroots conservatives around like they did at their convention and expect to win.
The goal, is to prevent Romney from getting a majority and thus costing him the election, by voting for Ron Paul for President.
However, this will not cost Romney the White House as noted above.
If faithless electors, or a surprise showing by the Johnson campaign, manage to prevent Romney from getting a majority (note, by math this implies Obama doesn't have the majority either) then the election goes to the House, where Romney is all but assured a win.
The only way to ensure Romney would not win is to not let the election go to the House.
This means you either need enough faithless electors to vote for Johnson or Paul or anyone else to get a win, or, those faithless electors have to vote for Obama.
As Ron Paul supporters, how likely is that?
So the only thing likely to come from this, is not a message sent to the GOP, but rather, fuel for the fire to get rid of the Electoral College - which will usher in an eternity of communist presidents elected solely by New England and the Left Coast.