Imagine President Donald Trump and his Vice-President, Kamala Harris.
It could happen.
There are 538 electoral college votes, representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia. As an even number, it is possible to result in a tie. Can it happen this year? Yes, but there are very few reasonable scenarios.
According to the poll of polls, 270towin.com and realclearpolitics.com, most states are not competitive. Eliminating the "leaning" states, where a candidate has less than 10% margin in the polls, President Trump has 125/270 and VP Biden has 212/270 "in the bag." A tie results if both get to exactly 269. There are, in fact, over 100 possible combinations that would result in a tie at that point, so we need to narrow that down.
What happens if we declare today (10/31/20 - 4 days before the election - that candidates with a 5-10% lead in the polls should "win" those states? That puts MN, WI, MI, NV in the Biden Column for 252/270, and OH in the Trump column for 143/270.
But the remaining states, AZ, TX, FL, GA, NC, IA, PA, NH, ME, ME(2) and NE(2) are all very much in play, and we are left with 7 tie combinations.
In ALL 7 combinations, Trump must:
- win TX, FL and PA, AND
- win exactly two of GA, NC or AZ.
So, if Trump wins those first three, and exactly two of the second group of three, there are still 7 scenarios among IA, NH, ME, ME(2) and NE(2) that result in a tie.
IS IT REALISTIC?
In my mind, ME and NH are Biden's, so there is only one realistic tie scenario left:
Trump: TX, FL, PA, GA, NC, IA, ME(2) and NE(2)
The real problem is Nebraska's second district, where polling holds Biden with a 6.4% lead. I know, I cheated. I told you that I would give the 5%+ polls to their candidates earlier in the post! Nebraska's second district, which has its own 1 Electoral College vote, includes urban Omaha and its suburbs, so Biden is doing well there. But it only went blue once in the last 5 presidential elections (Obama 2008).
This past week, President Trump was on the ground in Maine and Nebraska. Did you wonder why? It is for those two single solitary votes that could result in a tie. He needs them both.
President Trump and Vice-President Harris!
The US Constitution puts the election for president into the NEW House of Representatives in the event of a lack of a majority in the electoral college. The house's state delegations each get 1 vote. The Republicans hold that majority, so Trump would win the election in the House and be named President.
The Senate, in turn, picks the VP in the same process. In the Senate, there are 14 split delegations, 19 Republicans and 17 Democrats. Should Democrats pick up a net gain of +3 in the splits, Kamala Harris would become Donald Trump's Vice-President!
I believe that NE (2) will go to Biden, which eliminates all of this craziness, so...
No. There will not be a tie in the Electoral College this year. But it is fun to think about in theory only.