Thursday, November 3, 2016

RCP State Averages Show 269-269 Electoral College Deadlock

With three weeks to go, the Hillary Clinton for President campaign has ran out of gas in the marathon race for President. Crew members are attempting to push the Clinton car over the finish line. But the Trump car appears to be closing fast.

Every few days, I adjust my Electoral College spreadsheet based on the most recent state polls.  This morning, I moved Florida and Nevada over into the Trump column.  North Carolina, where Clinton polled ahead for weeks is now dead even according to the Real Clear Politics polling average.  You
move NC's electoral vote over into the Trump column and the result is a staggering 269-269 tie, which means no candidate receives the necessary 270 electoral votes necessary to be elected President.  That would mean, under our Constitution,the U.S. House of Representatives decides the election with each state delegation will cast one vote for President.  The Republicans have a majority in the House, even more so when you look at majorities on a state-by-state basis.  Thus, the GOP dominated House would pick the President.

You also have the possibility that independent Evan McMullin will win his home state of Utah and thus give him that state's 6 electoral votes.  That would make him the third candidate that the U.S. House could consider when electing the President.  Certainly McMullin would be an attractive option for a lot of Republican House members.  But those GOP House members would face tremendous pressure to vote for Trump even if many see him as unqualified to be President.

Let's look at even more possibilities. The Electoral College is made up of real life human beings, people selected by their party to elect the President.  What if Donald Trump narrowly wins the Electoral College but some of those GOP electors see him as unfit to serve and vote for Hillary Clinton instead...or someone who is not even running?  Clinton could be elected President even though she lost on Election Night.  Or what if Hillary Clinton narrowly wins the electoral vote count on November 8th and Trump throws some cash at Democratic electors to switch their vote to him come November?  I certainly don't believe Donald Trump is above such a maneuver.

The last time we had a close electoral college vote was in 2000, when George W. Bush finished with 271 electoral votes and then Vice President received 267.  There didn't seem to be any attempt after that election to steal the support of electors, though one Gore elector did abstain resulting in a final tally of 271-266.

I doubt that any of this will come into play.  My guess is that the polls are understating Clinton's support and that her electoral college vote total will be closer to 300 than 270.  Still it is interesting to ponder all the scenarios.

One thing that is clear though.  Trump and Clinton are incredibly weak candidates who probably would have no chance were they not running against each other.

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