In 2000, it was a recount. This time, it could be a tie.
Yes, get ready for the horrifying possibility that this election could prompt a worse constitutional crisis than the last one did.
Four years after the electoral mess in Florida, the nation remains deeply polarized and polls in the swing states show a very real chance of an Electoral College tie.
“It’s not as unlikely as most people might imagine,” said Electoral College expert Michael White at the National Archives. “There are only about 16 states in play this time, so it doesn’t take much figuring to get to a tie.”
To win, a candidate needs 270 of the 538 electoral votes.
The way the states are leaning, there are several scenarios under which both George Bush and John Kerry end up with 269 – one electoral vote short.
In that case, the House of Representatives gets to pick the president. The GOP controls the U.S. House, ensuring a Bush victory.
Bush’s election via Supreme Court despite losing the popular vote has always left a shadow over his presidency. Getting to a tie is shockingly easy.
The simplest scenario is this: If all the states except Louisiana vote the same way in 2004 as they did in 2000, it’s a tie.
Another scenario, plausible because polls are neck-and-neck in all four states, projects that two Al Gore states — Wisconsin and New Mexico — flip to Bush, and two Bush states — New Hampshire and Ohio — flip to Kerry.
Presto, it’s even-steven again. Come November, people may start getting nostalgic for a simple 36-day Florida recount.
The states that might swing it:
20 electoral votes
2000: Bush won by 165,019 votes
Current poll: Kerry 46 percent; Bush 44 percent
No Republican has ever been elected without carrying Ohio, but the jobs crisis could hurt Bush here.
5 electoral votes
2000: Gore won by 366 votes
Current poll: Kerry 44 percent; Bush 43 percent
Bush and his team have lavished visits on New Mexico, but Kerry only made a brief primary appearance.
10 electoral votes
2000: Gore won by 5,704 votes
Current poll: Kerry 46 percent; Bush 43 percent
Wisconsin was the third closest state in 2000 and has since lost more than 80,000 manufacturing jobs.
4 electoral votes
2000: Bush won by 7,211 votes
Current poll: Bush 45 percent; Kerry 39 percent
Bush’s only Northeast victory in 2000, the state has lost nearly 18 percent of its manufacturing jobs in the past two years.
The wild cards:
27 electoral votes
2000: Bush won by 537 votes
Current poll: Kerry 48 percent; Bush 45 percent
Dems aren’t too confident, but say they don’t need Florida if Kerry can bag Ohio and Pennsylvania.
21 electoral votes
2000: Gore won by 204,840 votes
Current poll: Kerry 45 percent; Bush 44 percent
Bush has visited Pennsylvania more than any other state, showing how key he considers the Keystone State.