- A surprising number of things could go wrong on Nov. 6. Though most are unlikely, anyone who remembers the 2000 election knows that's no guarantee. Here are five worst-case scenarios.
An Electoral College tie
- (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)
- What's the scenario: Obama and Romney tie at 269 electors — one shy of the number needed to win the Electoral College. Under the the Constitution, the election is then thrown to the incoming members of the House. Each state delegation gets one vote.
- Who's worried about it: Slate: "How the Electoral College could end in a tie." The New York Times: "New polls raise chance of Electoral College tie." The Idaho Statesman: "Scholar foresees Romney win, but not in popular vote." ABC News: "'Obamaha'? In case of a 269-269 electoral split." Politico: "An electoral college tie scenario." MSN Now: "Tied presidential election would be way less exciting than you think." Fox News Radio: "It probably won't happen. But if it does..." Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball: "The presidential race: Where does it go from here?" David Frum: "And what if it's a tie?" National Journal: "Why we might not have a presidential winner on Election Night."
A faithless elector
- (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
- What's the scenario: Romney ekes out an Electoral College win over Obama, 270-268, but one or more Republican electors refuses to vote for him, likely by casting a protest vote for Rep. Ron Paul. The election is thrown to the House or Obama wins.
- Has it happened before: Surprisingly often. Among others, a 2004 Minnesota elector apparently accidentally voted for John Edwards, a 2000 D.C. elector refused to vote and a 1988 West Virginia elector voted for Lloyd Bentsen.
The winner loses the popular vote
- (AP Photo/Doug Mills)
- What's the scenario: One of the candidates wins the Electoral College while losing the national popular vote. If it's Romney, Democrats get really angry again. If it's Obama, Republicans rethink their support of the Electoral College.
- Who's worried about it: Real Clear Politics: "If popular-vote loser wins, rift would likely ensue." Chicago Tribune: "Electoral College makes most voters irrelevant." ABC News: "Could Obama lose the popular vote but win the election?" Bloomberg TV: "Obama could win election, lose popular vote." Sam Stein: "We are getting to the point..." National Journal: "The possibility of a popular, electoral vote split is very real." Real Clear Politics: "Did JFK lose the popular vote?" Outside the Beltway: "Love the tracking? Hate the Colllege (redux)." Ezra Klein: "Is Romney really up by 7? And will Obama win the election anyway?" John Ellis: "The Map." Ross Douthat: "Can the Electoral College survive?" National Review: "The old college try." Boston Globe: "Winner of popular vote may be denied presidency." Salon: "Obama has a blue state problem." National Review: "Barring some sudden change, Romney will win the popular vote."
A recount in a key state
- (AP Photo/J.Pat Carter)
- What's the scenario: The two candidates are so closely tied that the election hinges on a single state, where the vote is within the margin for a contentious and costly recount.
- Has it happened before: In 2000, the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore came down to Florida. Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and resolved the election by ending the recount.
- Who's worried about it: The New York Times' Nate Silver: "Another recount in Florida?" Huffington Post: "Republicans use $5.3 million recount fund to bolster total."