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Tom Murse

What Happens if the Presidential Race is Tied?

By October 23, 2012

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Romney Obama DebateNational opinion polls show the 2012 presidential race is a dead heat, so what happens if President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney get the same number of electoral votes on Nov. 6?

An Electoral College tie, which has occurred before in U.S. history, would likely benefit Romney. Here's why:

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In the event that both candidates receive 269 electoral votes, the U.S. House of Representatives is given responsibility for breaking the Electoral College tie under the Constitution. Each congressional delegation would be given one vote to cast, and the candidate with the majority would become president.

It's an odd process, and as one political scientist pointed out recently: "Wyoming's one House member has as much power as California's 53 members."

Now to the bigger point. That process also begs the question: Which party controls the congressional delegations?


The GOP is likely to hold onto control of the House in the November elections, and could possess 29 of the 50 votes in the event the House is forced to break an Electoral College tie.

That would give the advantage to Romney.

Here's another quirk of how the Constitution deals with an Electoral College tie: The U.S. Senate gets to choose the vice president. And the upper chamber is now controlled by Democrats.

So it's possible, albeit remote, that in 2013 we could have a Republican president - Romney - paired off with a Democratic vice president - incumbent Joe Biden.

And you thought the 2000 election was a mess.

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