The possibility of an electoral college tie has doubled in the last week and nearly quadrupled in the past several weeks.
An electoral college tie would be unprecedented in the modern era and would throw the country into political mayhem for likely weeks. Several weeks ago, Nate Silver only rated that probability at 0.3%. Last week he said it had doubled to 0.6%. Since then it has doubled again.
Here’s the most likely map, in Silver’s simulations, that would cause a tie:
Here’s why the likelihood of this map is increasing.
After the catastrophic debate performance last week, the president has been slipping in the polls. In states where he once held commanding leads — Colorado, Virginia, Iowa and Nevada — he’s been slipping. In Florida, which was a toss-up, he’s been doing even worse.
Despite the slippage, though he’s still holding onto 3 to 5 point leads in Ohio and New Hampshire.
If this pattern holds — and the president performs significantly worse in Iowa, where he still holds a lead — this map is going to get likelier as the nation gets closer to Election Day.
Here’s what this means. If Romney makes a comeback and takes all the states where Obama was only leading slightly, we could be in for what could only be described as a presidential election nightmare scenario with a drawn out, congressional solution to a nearly intractable problem.
If the electoral college is tied, then the incoming House of Representatives selects the President. In mid-January, the House votes by state delegation with each state getting one vote — California’s 53 Representatives decide who gets the California vote, Wyoming’s solitary representative gives his state’s vote to a candidate, and whichever candidate gets 26 of 50 state votes first becomes president.
It would be absolute governmental chaos. At this point, it’s four times as feasible as it was a few weeks ago.