The election result nobody wants is looking more likely by the day, said David Jackson in USA Today. As it stands now, Mitt Romney and President Obama are locked in a virtual tie at 47 percent each, according to the RealClearPolitics.com poll of polls. But Obama still has a narrow lead in several crucial swing states—including New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Ohio—giving him a better chance of assembling the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. If that split holds until Election Day, Romney could win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College, and the presidency, to Obama. “Please, whatever happens Nov. 6, not that,” said Jay Bookman in AJC.com. It was bad enough in 2000, when the Supreme Court had to decide the election in Bush v. Gore. But America is now an even more partisan and divided nation, with momentous budgetary, tax, and foreign-policy decisions to make. “We need a clear-cut winner in the White House, not somebody installed there thanks to a quirky Electoral College.”
Actually, we could be in for something even worse than a repeat of 2000, said Eliot Spitzer in Slate.com. If the vote is very close, it’s entirely possible that the Electoral College tally will be tied, with Obama and Romney each getting 269 votes. “If that happens, America would get a complicated, tension-filled lesson in the Constitution.” The House of Representatives would vote to determine who wins, with the states getting just one vote apiece. So New York’s 29 members would get one vote, the same as North Dakota’s single congressman. That would mean a Romney win, as “the little-populated red states outnumber the highly populated blue states.” The constitutional craziness doesn’t end there, said Philip Klein in WashingtonExaminer.com. In the event of an Electoral College tie, the Senate gets to pick the vice president. That means if Democrats hold on to their Senate majority, Joe Biden would be Romney’s vice president. How’s that for fun?
Only one good result could come from another electoral disaster, said Garrett Epps in TheAtlantic.com. Americans might finally “fix our electoral system so this won’t happen over and over.” Abolishing the Electoral College, and ushering in a true democracy, is the only logical response. Sadly, small states will object to any change that would diminish their outsized power. So election reform “is likely to remain a dream, even if Election Day 2012 turns into a nightmare.”
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- The best places to find love — and lust — according to science
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- This simple hack for slicing cherry tomatoes will astound you
- How the battle for religious freedom became a nonsensical free-for-all
- Sex can't explain the culture war
- How a drafting error could doom Obama's carbon regulations
- Why GOP reformers are bound to fail
- The 6 best low-cost smartphones
Subscribe to the Week