What an Electoral College Tie Would Mean

Melissa Stusinski - Author

Dec. 20 2017, Updated 8:16 p.m. ET

With less than two weeks to go in the race between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the polls seem to be getting tighter and tighter, begging the question of what would happen in the case of an Electoral College tie.

While it’s unlikely that the Electoral College will be tied 269 to 269, it was also unlikely that 537 voters in Florida would decide the 2000 presidential election, reports The Washington Post.

While there are 32 ways that the two candidates could tie in the upcoming election, given the current electoral map, there are five scenarios that would be most likely.

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ABC News notes that the most likely scenario, if the tie were to happen, would mean that Obama carries Ohio, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. Mitt Romney would then carry Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, and Iowa.

The crucial state in this race is Ohio, because it would be much easier for Obama to win if he wins in this state.

In the case of an Electoral College tie, the task of electing the next president would become that of the House of Representatives — that is, the one that will take office in January. The 12th Amendment states that each delegation would cast one vote, with the winner determined by whoever wins the most states.

While it is impossible to tell what the House would look like right now, it’s unlikely that Obama would be favored in the Electoral College tie.

This is because the GOP currently has more members of Congress in 33 states, while the Democrats hold more in 13 states. It would take a lot of Democrats being elected for the president to win Congress.

Before the House of Representatives can meet, however, the Electoral College would meet on December 17. They meet to formally elect the president. Twenty-six states, including Washington DC, are required by law to vote for the candidate who won in their state. The remaining 24 states do not have this requirement, however, meaning that an elector can “go rogue” and vote for a different candidate.

While the electors faced with a tie between the candidates could go rogue, this is not likely, since the electors are chosen on Election Day based on which candidate wins their state. They are typically people who have a history of political activity with just one party, making them unlikely to go rogue.


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