Fasten your seat belts because predictions that hyperpartisanship will grow no matter who’s elected President have now gotten even more grim with this new twist – which is being increasingly suggested by various analysts:
Most polls at this moment suggest GOP nominee Mitt Romney is in the lead nationally, but surveys in the nine or so swing states are registering a narrow advantage for President Obama.
So here’s a prospect worth contemplating: What if Romney carries the popular vote, but Obama regains the presidency by winning 270 votes or more in the electoral college?
“I think it’s a 50/50 possibility — or more,” said Mark McKinnon, who was a political strategist for former president George W. Bush.
“If the election were held tomorrow, it wouldn’t just be a possibility, it would be actual,” added William A. Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who also served as a policy adviser to former president Bill Clinton.
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The magic number is 270 — electoral college votes that is — to win the big prize. According to 270towin.com, there are now 11 "battleground" states and, statistically, 32 permutations from these up-for-grab states that could produce a 269-vote electoral college tie in the presidential election.
Based on the site's simulated polls, the mathematical probability of a tie increased almost fourfold in recent weeks — from 0.3% to 1.1%. And both political camps concede the race is tightening each day. Is there more gridlock ahead? It's a small but scary possibility.
So what if one of these 32 combos comes to pass? No, unlike Gore vs. Bush in 2000, the issue doesn't go to the Supreme Court for resolution, at least not right away. It turns out the Constitution has a nifty, two-step solution.
First, the 435 House members convene to elect the president. But only 50 votes are cast, one per state, so the delegates from each state first vote to determine how their state will cast its one vote. The current House GOP majority (240 to 190) has Romney likely getting the nod. But that could quickly change because it's the newly elected House that casts the critical vote.
Next, the 100 senators convene to elect the vice president. The current Senate makeup favors the Democrats 51 to 47, with two independents, so Joe Biden would keep his No. 2 gig. Again, that razor-thin margin could move on election day.
And if there's a tie vote in either the Senate or House?...In the House, what happens if the states deadlock at 25-25? The vice president takes charge as acting president until the House breaks the stalemate. But wait, that's true only if the veep "qualifies," which Biden wouldn't until the Senate elects him. So the House speaker — currently John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) — would serve as acting president. But wait again. Boehner is required to resign as both speaker and House member to serve in his new role, something he may not fancy. If Boehner declines to serve, the acting president gig defaults to none other than the venerable Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), the 88-year-old Senate president pro tempore.