Sudden Death Electoral Overtime

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The last person to figure out that Michael Bloomberg is running for president might well be Michael Bloomberg himself. His de facto [exploratory committee] is just the latest indication of how the mayor plans to spend his summer.

Opinions about Bloomberg’s electoral viability of are like, well, let’s just say everybody has [them], including [us](../../../../../20/42/news&columns/feature.cfm). But the whole discussion of a possible third candidate gets my inner electoral college geek all hot and bothered. If you play around with the Electoral College map long enough (and you can play around with it to your hearts content over at you will soon run up against a Constitutionally inescapable fact. If no candidate receives at least 270 electoral votes – a majority of the electoral college – then the United States House of Representatives selects the President, while the U.S. Senate selects the Vice President. Ready for a little election break-down? Let's go.

It has happened before, in 1876 Ruther B. Hayes lost the popular vote and the electoral college, but was installed by Congress after he agreed to prematurely end Reconstruction. Martin Van Buren, the first President from New York, also ascended to the oval office by the grace of Congress.

Ostensibly throwing the race into the House would kill Bloomberg’s Presidential hopes, regardless of his share of the poplar vote. One expects Democrats who are in control of the House would select the Democratic nominee for President.

But it is not that simple. The twelfth amendment specifies that each “state” shall have one vote for President in the House. This means that all the New York Congressmen put together have just as much voting authority as the solitary Represnetative from Delaware. The key numbers become the partisan numbers in each individual state, not the overall balance of power between Republicans and Democrats in the House.

Thanks to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the Democrats have a majority of congressmen in precisely 25 states. The Republicans control 23 states, with two states, Kansas and Mississippi, split evenly down the middle. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to the two people who could decide the 2008 Presidential election. Gene Taylor of Mississippi, and Dennis Moore of Kansas. Both Taylor and Moore are conservative “blue dog” ( ) democrats.

Should Republicans induce a stalemate in the House by flipping two conservative Democrats, the next Constitutional provision for electing the President is … managed anarchy. The House must come to a decision on the President, there is no other option, turning the Constitution into the NHL playoffs where the teams keep skating until somebody scores a goal.

Faced with a deadlocked Congress and a nation already incensed that their popular vote didn’t matter, that is the time when politicians usually rush to compromise. With Democratic Representatives unwilling to move towards the Republican nominee and vice versa, could that be the point where an independent candidate rises to the forefront as a compromise candidate allowing both sides to save face? They say a good compromise is one where neither side is happy.

And then for Vice President, the U.S. Senate gets involved …

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