With only a week left until Election Day, and after every political pundit and their brother has run through their theorized Electoral College scenarios again and again… let’s run through just a few more (go to this link and click “Make Your Own Scenarios” to follow along; all polling references come from Real Clear Politics). I agree with the New York Times’ allocation of “lean” states and which states are considered tossups; barring a get-out-the-vote miracle or a freak November surprise, Arizona and North Carolina are relatively safe in the Romney column and Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Nevada are relatively safe for Obama (although Nevada is much less safe than the rest). That leaves Wisconsin, Florida, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, and Virginia as the states that will be in play next Tuesday.
Now for the guesswork. Let’s give Florida to Romney – in the seven statewide polls conducted since October 17, Romney has lead Obama (statistically significant or not) in five of them, and he was at 50 percent or above in four of those five.
But even if Florida is in the bag, Romney runs into a problem here. For the sake of this scenario, let’s also throw Colorado, Virginia, Iowa, and New Hampshire into the Romney column. Even with all of those additions, Romney only stands at 267 votes. Wisconsin and Ohio are the only two tossups left; give Obama Wisconsin (Obama will probably win there), and there we have it – whoever wins Ohio wins the presidency. Among the tossups, even if Obama takes Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Hampshire, if Romney takes the rest and Ohio then he wins. If Romney cannot steal Wisconsin from Obama, then he almost certainly cannot win the White House without Ohio.
I say “almost” because there is one lurking possibility, one that could throw this nation into absolute political turmoil: an Electoral College tie. If Obama and Romney come out of Election Day with 269 votes each… then Washington, we have a problem. How could such a scenario occur? Many possible arrangements have been theorized, but here’s the one I think merits the most consideration: give Obama Ohio, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, and give Romney Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Virginia, and turn Nevada red. That puts both tickets at 269.
Luckily, the Constitution provides instructions for what to do should this occur. In the case of a tie, Article II, Section I of the Constitution stipulates that the House of Representatives as it will be comprised after this election will decide who will be president…except each state gets just one vote because each state’s Representatives will vote amongst themselves to determine their state’s singular vote (considering that there are quite a few more “red” states than “blue” states, this seems like an easy Romney win). This wouldn’t stir too much controversy if Romney wins the popular vote, but if Obama were to win the popular vote in such a situation, you could expect marches on Washington and crazed harassment of House GOP lawmakers as Democrats and liberals would claim that the will of the majority was being obfuscated. The Senate then votes to determine who will be the Vice President…so yes, this could lead to a Romney-Biden Administration.
However, considering that the Democrats only have a narrow majority in the Senate, if Romney were to win the popular vote in a 269-269 tie, I submit that some Democratic Senators might vote for Paul Ryan to be Vice President. The reason is that, besides having Biden next in line to be President and having him remain as the deciding vote in Senate ties, making Biden work under Romney wouldn’t really be that valuable to the Democratic Party. Frankly, a Romney-Biden Administration would be filled with distrust and hate, not to mention gross awkwardness. I think that a newly-elected President Romney would be able to make the case to enough Democratic Senators that they should follow the popular demand (assuming Romney wins the popular vote) and make Paul Ryan the vice president, both for the sake of effective governance and the preservation of Biden’s political career (seriously, being vice president under a Republican president would kill Biden’s future prospects for running again for the top spot).
The electoral tie, while certainly possible, is still not nearly as likely as the “all-about-Ohio” scenario. It will very likely be a few thousand Ohioans who effectively decide this presidential election; so Mr. President and Governor Romney, don your Ohio State jackets and enjoy your last few days of pandering.