It’s the ultimate nightmare scenario that nobody wants to talk about. What if on election night both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney end up tied with 269 electoral votes. Who gets to decide the winner?
According to the 12th amendment, the House of Representatives gets to decide. Each state will cast one vote. Whoever gets 26 votes wins the election. Just in case you haven’t looked at a current map of the House of Representatives lately, let me break it down for you. There are a few patches of blue, primarily in the northeast and west coast, along with some sprinkles in south Texas, southern Florida, northern New Mexico and a couple of Midwest states, but mostly a shit-load of red just about everywhere else. I’ll spare you the suspense. If the election ends in a tie, Barack Obama is toast.
But isn’t a 269 tie improbable? Well, that depends. Is it likely to happen? Probably not, but, the more I look at the battleground states, the more concerned I get that it might just happen.
The states that concern me most are Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin. I believe that Obama will get a split in the mid-Atlantic states, winning Virginia, but losing North Carolina. I am less than enthusiastic about the Russ-belt states. Ohio is within the margin of error and I don’t trust what I’m seeing in Wisconsin. Obama could lose both states. And then there’s Florida, Democrats’ favorite state. The race is a dead heat there. Expect Rick Scott to pull out all the stops to secure the state for Romney. Obama should easily win New Mexico and Nevada, with a close pickup in Colorado. Assuming Pennsylvania’s voter ID law doesn’t tip it into the red column, and all the other states go the way they’re expected to, that’s 269 Obama, 269 Romney. Game, set, match.
Any which way you look at it, Obama has to take two out of three in the Midwest. Either Michigan and Wisconsin or Michigan and Ohio or Ohio and Wisconsin. I deliberately omit Iowa mainly because I don't think Obama will carry it, despite holding a 3-point lead. As for Indiana, let's just agree that if Obama needs Indiana, he's in deep trouble. Of course he could also lose both Virginia and North Carolina. In that event he would have to sweep all three of the aforementioned Midwest battleground states, a tall order.
That’s why I’m a little confused and somewhat concerned that Obama is spending considerable sums of money running ads in Florida. While he won the state in ’08, it will more than likely flip this year. Everything north of the I-4 corridor is a sea of red and his support among seniors has eroded some. He would need huge turnouts in the Miami / Broward areas to have any chance. That’s asking a lot.
If I were running his campaign, I would concede the state and divert the resources to Wisconsin and Michigan to shore up support there. Leave the advertising in Ohio and Virginia alone and run some additional ads in Colorado. If he takes those states, Obama wins reelection. Period.
Of course there’s just a little over three months to go and no one knows for certain how all this will play out. But the cynic in me just can’t shake this nagging feeling that we could be headed for a scenario that would make Bush v. Gore look like a couple kids fighting over crayons.