It's helpful to think of the Electoral College as the Arizona State of electoral systems. Most of the time it's all fun and games. Then one morning you awake naked, covered in vomit with a giant penis emblazoned on your forehead. A 269-269 electoral vote tie — which sends the election to the House of Representatives — is the Electoral College's version of that penis.
Surprisingly, it's not even drawn in the shape of Florida. Ohio, Wisconsin, Maine and others all play a role in creating 7 plausible scenarios that will leave our country with a terrifying post-election hangover…
SCENARIO #1: THE OHIO STATE ELECTORAL COLLEGE TIE is the most likely of unlikely scenarios. Were the election results to exactly mimic the average of state polls as they are today, Barack Obama would win 281 electoral votes on the strength of his narrow leads in Ohio, Nevada, and Iowa. However, were Nevada and Iowa to slip away from the president while Ohio held firm, both candidates would be left with 269 votes. And you'll be left with a lot of Facebook friends you didn't even realize were constitutional scholars specializing in the 12th Amendment.
SCENARIO #2: REVENGE OF THE BINDER MOMS. Presently Colorado and Virginia are in Romney's column with a margin of less than 1%. A scenario in which working-class males of Ohio moved toward Romney, while the binder moms of northern Virginia and the Denver metro area voted in droves for Obama would also create a 269-269 split.
SCENARIO #3: OMAHA'D. As many of your nerds know, Nebraska and Maine allocate their Electoral College votes on a district-basis. The winner of each district's popular vote is awarded that district's electoral vote, and the winner of the state-wide vote is then awarded the state's remaining two electoral votes.
In 2008, Obama narrowly won Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District, but Republicans have redrawn the district's boundaries in such a way that makes it more favorable to Republicans. But what if Warren Buffet buys the 2nd Congressional as an anniversary present for the Obamas? More tie scenarios become viable.
SCENARIO #4: NEBRASKADUMMERING, Part II. By winning Virginia, Nebraska's 2nd Congressional and taking another one of Romney's home states, New Hampshire, Obama can force a constitutional clusterfuck, even with a loss in Ohio.
SCENARIO #5: WATERVILLE'D. Like their counterparts in Nebraska, Maine has made its 2nd Congressional more favorable to Republican candidates. Which means, you guessed it, another way to make a tie.
SCENARIO #6: DIRIGO! …at least two exciting ways! Though the likelihood of Obama losing New Mexico without losing in a landslide is somewhat slim, so let's return to a more plausible map…
SCENARIO #6: THE CHEESEHEAD STANDS ALONE. Paul Ryan might be good for more than reminding women of poor decisions made at frat parties. He might help Romney win Wisconsin, where the latest poll shows Romney trailing by a mere 2%. That might be enough to force a tie, allowing Americans to exhale, "Oh good, our nation's fate is in the hands of the House of Representatives, which has never failed us before."
* Okay, "realistic." As of today, Nate Silver's models place the odds of an Electoral College tie at just .8%. Like discussions of brokered conventions, Electoral College ties are rightly derided as political masturbation, but….CLOSE THE DOOR, DAD!
(Maps created at 270towin.com)
Tags: Electoral College