Monday, 22 September 2008

Resolving a tie

I will get round to fulfilling my side of the challenge I made to ASwaS by deadline day on Tuesday. But before I do, I found something - that I don't think will happen, but is interesting nonetheless.

Over at political betting, Morus has found this site which helps you to calculate how the US Presidential election will end up. He has also made a charity bet that the Presidential election will end in an Electoral College tie - 269-296.

Which raises an interesting point. Me indulging in fantasy politics again... but bear with me.

Take the 2004 result as our starting point (Bush win 286-251 against John Kerry). If we give Barack Obama 3 states where polls suggest he will win (Iowa) or may win (Nevada, New Mexico) then he now has 269... as does John McCain - see map above. IF (and it is a bit if) no other states change hands it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the election could end in a tie.
Then what?

Well, then the new
Congress steps in. The House of Representatives elects the new President (with each state delegation getting one vote) while the Senate votes for the Vice President and requiring a majority (51). I think what that means is that, if it were (in that unlikely event) to be a tie, it is advantage McCain - with the majority of states providing Republican-majority delegations to the House (I think). However, he would probably end up with a Democrat - presumably Joe Biden - as VP, if the Democrats maintained control of the Senate.

[EDIT - Thanks to Sam in the comments, I've done more research. Apparently the Democrats control 27 states' House delegations and that is meant to increase in November according to polls. However, IF it were a tie, the probability is that McCain would win more states - probably by a margin of 30-21 ish. So, how would the states feel if they'd voted McCain in the election then their Congressmen and women voted for Obama? I think this points to one thing, in this case - a huge mess]

As I said, fantasy politics, and unlikely to happen. But always good to know how things work - if democracy fails to produce a winner!


Sam 22 September 2008 at 22:00  

Actually it must be advantage Obama. Democrats currently control the House, with 27 State delegations having a Democrat majority to 21 Republican. There are currently 235 Democratic members to 199 Republicans, and Democrats are apparently expected to pick up more seats, and thus maybe more delegations.

Interestingly, as Professor Larry J Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, points out, in the (even more) unlikely event of those delegations bickering & hollering past Inauguration Day (well politicians are politicians), AND the Senate doing the same, the Vice-President-Elect would become acting president. Congratulations President Pelosi.

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