As the horserace aspect of this year’s presidential election ramps up, it’s interesting to look at the various scenarios of how each candidate can reach the magic number of 269 electoral votes. Wait! Astute readers are screaming: What a terrible error the newspaper just made — a candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win!
Who said anything about winning?
Much like NASCAR fans secretly root for wrecks, political and news junkies dream of an Electoral College tie.
It’s not as farfetched as you might think. Take this year. Let’s give President Obama: Ohio, New Mexico, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. And let’s give Mitt Romney: Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Iowa, Nevada and Colorado.
See anything crazy in those lists? Each candidate is, at worst, in a dead heat in those states.
If that were to play out, we would be tied at 269.
That’s when things get fun — and serious.
Fun because we would be looking at weeks of jockeying as the process plays out in the Electoral College and then, presumably, Congress.
Serious because it would reveal the Electoral College and our presidential election process for the sham that it is.
Here’s how it works:
First, the Electoral College would meet and vote. Now let’s stop right here. This puts immense power in the hands of these electors. Any one elector could subvert the will of the state he or she represents and change their vote. Does anybody think this is a good idea?
Now, let’s assume all the electors remained loyal. The election would then be thrown in to the U.S. House of Representatives. Each state delegation would caucus and vote internally on a candidate. Whichever candidate wins becomes that state’s single vote for president. This gives North Dakota the same number of votes as California, Texas or North Carolina. Right now, the breakdown of state delegations is 33-17 in favor of Republicans. But remember, the new Congress would be making these decisions.
Finally, the new Senate would elect the vice-president. So, would a Democratic-controlled Senate feel obligated to elect Paul Ryan if Romney wins in the House, or would they stick Romney with Joe Biden?
As fun as all this would be for politicos, it sure seems to us that the process could and should be simplified. First of all, the human factor could be removed from the Electoral College — whatever electoral votes a candidate receives is what he gets.
Second, the entire ticket should be elected by Congress, not the president in one chamber and the vice-president in the other.
Finally, there should be a more representative way than “one vote/one delegation” for having the House elect the president.
Of course, some will argue that the entire Electoral College process should be scrapped in favor of a pure popular vote election. We would not go that far.
But while we’re arguing that point, we will keep checking those electoral map projections, secretly hoping that the magic number is 269, not 270.
The Kinston Free Press