Monday, Oct 6, 2008
What if it’s a tie?
A handful of battleground states are likely to determine the November 4 U.S. presidential election and it’s possible that Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama could split them in a manner that leaves each just short of victory.
If that happens, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives would pick the president but it’s unclear whether Democrats would have enough votes to send Obama to the White House.
The House last decided an election in 1824. But the legal skirmishing and partisan rancor would probably resemble a more recent election — the 2000 vote in which Republican George W. Bush narrowly defeated Democrat Al Gore after a disputed Florida vote count and legal battle.
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“This would be the seamy side of democracy, the lobbying and the money would be so intense,” said American University history professor Allan Lichtman.
In the United States, presidential elections are determined on a state-by-state basis rather than a nationwide popular vote. Each state, along with the District of Columbia, is allotted a number of votes in the Electoral College that correspond to the number of representatives it has in Congress. To become president, a candidate must win at least 270 electoral votes.
If McCain wins Virginia, New Hampshire, Florida and Ohio but loses Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico and Iowa to Obama, both candidates could end up with 269 electoral votes.