What if the House chooses the next President?

The premise behind the question is this – suppose we have an 1872 type problem with the electoral college and a late Hillary withdrawal results in a fracturing of the electoral vote that happens on December 19th, 2016. It would not take a lot of chaos to get in this situation. The vote on December 19th is irrevocable and there is no “do over”, although in theory there can be challenges to the certified counts.

There are 538 allocated electoral votes (based on 100 senators + 435 House + 3 DC). On January 6th, the house gets the ballots and announces the winner IF one candidate has a majority (50%+1) = 270

If nobody has 270 votes – lets say Trump has lost badly and has 180 votes, but Biden, Sanders, Warren and Hillary split the 348 remaining votes so that nobody gets 270 votes.

In that case, the House has to choose the president from among the top three. Each State delegation gets one vote. So to have a winner, one of the three candidates has to get the vote of 26 states.

Who would win?

If you assume that the state delegations stay the same (a weak assumption but better than nothing – incumbents usually win…) And you assume the delegation votes on party allegiance, not who won their state…

The answer turns out thst the Republican would get 33 votes. The reason is Republicans control many of the small states, and Democrats are concentrated in a few big states.

Potentially a problem is there are three states with an equal number of Republican and Democratic House members – Maine, New Hampshire and New Jersey. (They are not included in the 33)

Democrats really don’t want the House picking the President.

This entry was posted in 2016 election, American Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply