My head hurts from sorting out the economic doublespeak, foreign policy palaver and trying to winnow “truth” from jabbering when it comes to a handful of key personal election issues this year. I know I need a new remote control for my TV from smashing the “mute” button so often. The election is in 11 days, I know for whom I’m voting, and now I can sit back and ponder the outcome(s) based on the income of the 2012 general election, and some of the stuff I think about makes me laugh.
First, it’s “official” – the race for the White House is the costliest in modern history, with over $2 billion raised by both sides as of the end of September. I won’t contemplate how $2 billion could be better spent on things this country truly needs.
Second, the Obama-Romney slap down is a whole lot tighter than many of the so-called pundits predicted six months ago. As of today, Mitt Romney leads in five of six national public opinion polls of likely voters; all save one are within the margin of error. The truth is told in the sixth poll that puts Romney in a straight up tie with President Obama. If you believe the statistics, just 3% of Americans who will head to the polls November 6 are undecided.
Senate races in the seven, nine or 11 key states – the number depends on the expert du jour – are so tight the prognosis of which party will control the Senate in 113th Congress is pure guesstimation not informed prediction. One analyst I trust puts the end game at a 2-4 seat pickup for the Republicans; most others see little if any change in the Senate majority. If it’s a four-seat pickup for the GOP, it takes the majority. The House will likely remain under Republican control, though the majority party may lose a few seats, particularly in open races and in races where incumbents are facing unexpectedly tough reelection battles.
Why are these key races so tight? To quote Democrat campaign strategist James Carville: “It’s economy, stupid.” It was inevitable the pivotal issue in the presidential and congressional races would come down to the economy; if all politics is local, then all economic issues are personal, as in “my job, my taxes, my kid’s tuition, my doctor’s bill, my family’s future.”
The TV talking heads are publicly musing about Romney winning the popular vote and Obama winning the Electoral College vote, the scenario that put George W. Bush in the White House in 2000. Others are noodling over what happens in an Electoral College tie. That notion intrigues me, and I’m embarrassed to say I was totally unaware of how the Founding Fathers anticipated this phenomenon. The answer is found in the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, and the truly twisted side of me finds the potential outcome more than a little funny.
Here’s how it works. There are 538 electors in the Electoral College, with each state having as many electors as there members in the congressional delegation. A candidate must get 270 Electoral College votes to win. Right now, Romney is credited with 206 electoral votes; Obama with 201, leaving 131 in play. Now, come December 17, when the College meets to vote, if there’s a tie – which is highly improbable, but theoretically possible since only about half the states require their elector vote reflect the popular vote – then the new Congress – the one sworn in on January 6, 2013 – will decide who gets to live at the White House. It’s happened three times in our history, the last time in 1876.
The House elects the President, with each state delegation – not each individual member – getting one vote. This means states like Wyoming with a single House member are on the same footing as California with 53 House members. If the GOP keeps control of the House in roughly the same manner as it does today, then the Republicans control 29 state delegations. Hence, we can assume the House would elect Mitt Romney president. The Senate elects the Vice President, with each Senator getting one vote. If the Democrats retain control of the Senate, we can assume Vice President Biden would be reelected. This hasn’t happened since 1804.
See why I’m chuckling?