Oh, I wish I'd thought of publishing this for Halloween....

So I've been thinking about the 2012 election, and what could be the absolute worst possible outcome of it. Naturally, there are two primary possibilities -- that Barack Obama is reelected or that Mitt Romney is elected -- either of which will likely to cause heartache to about half the country. But there exists a third possibility, that of an Electoral College tie. Normally a remote possibility for which a realistic election map is almost impossible to conjure, given the states in play in this cycle and the electoral vote adjustments made in response to the last census, there are some plausible scenarios under which exactly that could occur this time around. Now, I have written in the past on the prospect of hanging the Electoral College as an actual third party campaign strategy -- since the selection of the President then moves to the newly-elected Congress (caucusing by state, with each state getting one vote), a third-party candidate who receives even a single Electoral College vote could become a viable compromise candidate, where the Congressional delegations are closely split.

But in the context of the current election atmosphere, with seemingly unlimited amounts of money pouring in from all sides and television screens being filled with political ads and political reporting, the more likely outcome of an Electoral College tie would simply be to both expand and extend the presidential campaign -- advertising and all -- well into January. And if the situation wasn't resolvable on a quick vote, maybe into February or later of the year. And what sort of advertising? Well, the target would no longer be individual voters but congressional delegations, through the influence of their constituents. The solidly red and blue states would likely still escape the incessant barrage of campaign efforts. But some states have split delegations, and there are likely to be a few states where the majority of members of the Congressional delegation are of a party different from the presidential candidate who prevailed in that state. Those states would get an earful of ads trashing the other side and pleading with voters, "tell your Congressman to support our side!!" Through advertising the case would be made, and strongly, that the winner of the state, (or perhaps the winner of the national popular vote, if they differ), ought to get the votes of the state. The rallies and attacks in the news and yellow journalism would go on, and unlike election day, there'd be no set end in sight. No resolution. Turmoil.

So, here's hoping that there's an actual electoral vote winner on election day, and on top of that, that whoever wins the election, they do it in a clear and unequivocal enough manner that (partisan grumbling and conspiracy theories aside), the thing will be understood to be done and over with. Well, until the next one, naturally.


Mauler reminds me that "the Senate would have a chance to elect Joe Biden Vice President, even if Romney were President." That is true, though not so much an aspect of the "nightmare" scenario -- that decision, being straight up or down in the Senate and for a lesser position, would probably get the same sort of media treatment as a Supreme Court appointment; the real drama would be with the POTUS vote.


For THE IRON NODER CHALLENGE 5: THE FERROUS FRONTIER and sort of for Election 2012: An Unofficial Quest Announcement

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