Ohio: The (Electoral) Heart of It All

In an October 12 entry at the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog, Philip Klein showed readers a map containing a prospective electoral vote outcome for this year's presidential race between incumbent Democrat Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney which would result in a 269-269 tie.

As I see it, that map--which shows Romney taking every important swing state save one--represents where things really stood that day and where they remained as of when this column was submitted. If there's an exception, it's that it shows Obama winning Ohio.

Klein accurately explains that Romney would more than likely have the upper hand if the Electoral College ends up in a tie:

Under the U.S. Constitution ... the presidential race is turned over to the House of Representatives (assuming no unexpected defections when the electors formally vote in December).

And here’s the twist: each state would get just one vote, based on what the majority of its own delegation decides. A candidate would thus need 26 votes to win.


By our estimates, Romney should have at least 26 states safely.

While it's nice that Republicans will, barring a congressional sea change almost no one except Nancy Pelosi is predicting, control a majority of the state delegations in the House in January 2013, Klein's parenthetical is far more than theoretical.

Just one "faithless elector" withholding his or her vote or voting for someone other than the person to whom he or she is pledged would prevent the tie just described. The operative word appears to be "would," not "could." Faithless, accidental (I'm not kidding), or withheld electoral votes have occurred in eight of the past 14 presidential elections and as recently as 2004. Those gambits have apparently stood either unchallenged or not successfully challenged.

This year, in a potentially catastrophic development, Ron Paul loyalists in Nevada and Texas have threatened in advance that they might withhold their votes if Mitt Romney carries their states. A Paul-supporting Iowa elector who promised she would do the same has resigned and been replaced.

There is also the far from small possibility that an Electoral College tie could occur while President Obama receives more popular votes. The best-case scenario if that transpires is that Romney would have to endure at least two years of being cast as "illegitimate" by the left and the press. There are potentially many other very unpleasant and dangerous worst-case scenarios.

All of this explains why Mitt Romney must win Ohio if he wishes to become our 45th president.