Winning the White House Through a Tie

Patrick Custer ’19 – Inside Politics Participant

Many interesting theories arose in the weeks before election day of how Donald Trump would be able to win the White House. In the weeks before the election it seemed highly probable that Hillary Clinton would be our country’s next President. However, there was still a fair possibility that Donald Trump, as he had done time and time again during the election cycle, could defy the odds and claim the White House. As we saw on election night, in order for Mr. Trump to win outright he needed to receive 270 electoral votes, just over half of the total 538 votes in the electoral college. However, the tie theory states that if there is a tie in the electoral college with each candidate receiving 269 electoral votes or a third party candidate were to win a state which would have prevented either Clinton or Trump from reaching 270, the decision would be made not by means of another election, but through a vote in the House of Representatives.

Battleground States:

In the weeks before the election many political analyst believed that Mr. Trump faced a much more difficult and daunting path to reach the magical number of 270 electoral votes than Secretary Clinton. She only needed to retain the leads she held in the weeks before the election in the battleground states to ensure her victory. In the weeks before the election Mr. Trump trailed Secretary Clinton in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Colorado and New Hampshire. In the weeks before he also only lead by slim margins in Florida, Ohio, Arizona, and Nevada. In order for Mr. Trump to get to at least 269 electoral votes he needed to not only maintain his lead in those key states, but also manage to flip every state where Clinton was leading the weeks before election day. As we saw on election night he was able to do this and did not need to rely on a tie in the electoral college. A tie is a very unlikely scenario but it could of occurred during this election or in a future election.

The House Decides:

In the event of a tie in the electoral college, article 2, section 1, subsection 3 of the Constitution grants the House of Representatives the power to select the next president. They vote by means of delegation, not individual members, with each state receiving one vote. By virtue of the 12th amendment, only candidates who received electoral votes could be consider when voting to break the tie. For this election it would result in the house deciding between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. People assumed that the House would remain in the control of Republicans after the 2016 elections. So if the election would of ended in a tie our next President would have been Mr. Donald J. Trump. As we saw on election night, President elect-Trump did not need to rely on the tie theory to win the white house. Perhaps in a future election we will see the first instance of a tie theory.


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