Electoral College Tie Redux

By far, the post on Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott that has received the most attention is this one I wrote a year and a half ago in which I explained that if this election were to have produced a tie in the Electoral College, the Democrat would probably win so long as no seats in Congress changed hands in this election.

I wrote that post based on the composition of the 110th Congress. What's important to keep in mind, however, is that it is the new Congress, not the outgoing Congress, that officially (and nowadays ceremonially) counts the electoral votes and, if necessary, breaks ties in the Electoral College. In other words, if there was a tie in the Electoral College in this election, members of Congress elected in 2008 (and Senators elected in 2004 and 2006) would be the ones to break the tie.

Today, members of the Electoral College are meeting in their respective state capitals to formally cast their state's electoral votes for President and Vice President of the United States. Each elector was nominated by their party to vote for their candidates in the Electoral College if said candidates had won their state (or district) in last month's election. 365 electors are pledged to vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden, while 173 are pledged to vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin.

But what if the Presidential candidates had tied? What if each had received 269 electoral votes? Well, chances are even greater now that Obama still would have won.

A reminder: Whenever no Presidential candidate receives a majority in the Electoral College (nowadays most likely the result of a 269-269 tie in the electoral vote), the US House votes to elect the President, while the Senate votes on the new Vice President. The twist is that while each Senator gets one vote for Vice President, in the House each state has just one vote.

So to get a good (but not necessarily perfect) idea of who would win, we look at how each state's US House delegation is divided in terms of partisan leanings of its Representatives.

Five states went from having Republican majorities in their Congressional delegation in the 110th Congress to having Democratic majorities in the 111th. Democrats picked up three seats each in Ohio and Virginia, two each in Michigan and New Mexico, and one in Nevada.

Democrats moved from a 4-4 tie in 2006 to a 5-3 lead in Arizona thanks to Ann Kirkpatrick. Walter Minnick's upset in Idaho means that very conservative state's delegation will have one Congressman from each party.

Unlike in 2006, the Republicans did pick up a few Democratic-held seats in 2008. One such changeover - which saw Kansan Lynn Jenkins defeat Nancy Boyda in a rematch of the 2006 contest which Boyda won - gave Republicans a 3-1 lead in the Kansas delegation.

The end result? What used to be a 27-20 lead for the Democrats in congressional delegations has now expanded to 33-15, with two ties.

So had the Electoral College Tied at 269-269 in this election, Obama would have won the vote in the House 33-15 had every member voted for their party's nominee. He still would have won had enough Democrats voted for McCain to cause seven states with Democratic control to go to McCain.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In Kansas, Lynn Jenkins beat Nancy Boyda. Jenkins knocked off Ryun in the primary this year.