If Donald Trump loses Michigan, Pennsylvania and Maine’s second congressional district, but keeps all of the other states and electoral districts he won in 2016, the election will be a 269-269 tie.
Then it goes to the House.
One may think that Speaker Nancy Pelosi will get to select the next president, but that’s not quite how it goes.
The way the House chooses the next President, each state’s delegation gets one vote.
And Republicans currently hold 26 state delegations, since the system gives Wyoming and West Virginia the same number of votes as California and New York. There is also a tie in the swing state of Pennsylvania, while Michigan has seven Democrats, six Republicans and one former Republican in likely Libertarian party presidential contender Justin Amash.
If the vote in the electoral college is a tie, there will be massive controversy. If Joe Biden won the popular vote, many would argue that it is the moral responsibility of the congressional delegations to take that into consideration when making their decision. If Donald Trump won the popular vote, a different group of people would be making the same argument.
There would be all sorts of efforts to convince members of Congress to think about how they want to be remembered generations later. It will be pretty easy for Republican members of Congress to conclude that if they can legally vote for the President from their party, they’ll do so. But media figures will feel differently.
A final consideration is the potential for dealmaking. In some cases, a state is represented by one member of Congress, so they would have the opportunity to be kingmakers in exchange for the most voter of their lifetimes.
In a potential problem for Trump, if a majority of House delegations can not select a presidential contender, the Senate will select the Vice President and that person might become President. Republican senators would not only prefer Pence over whoever Joe Biden’s running mate is, but over Trump as well.
This is a scenario that could very quickly get very chaotic. But then 2020 has been pretty nuts so far.