What happens if neither candidate gets 270 electoral votes?

I was goofing off looking at electoral maps just now, and this one caught my attention. McCain is at 265, Obama at 252, and 21 are locked in “tied.”

Now I know it would be really unusual to see an actual tie, but what if? Anyone know the rules?


  1. If neither candidate gets a majority of the Electoral Votes, the election for President is decided in the House of Representatives, with each state delegation having one vote. Senators would elect the Vice-President.

  2. The House of Representatives–the one sworn in on 1/3/09–votes. But not a majority vote, but rather a majority of state delegations. It’s the 12th Amendment.

    Back of the envelope, the Democrats should control the most state delegations from the House. If Obama wins the popular vote, then it’s a no-brainer that Obama will win. If McCain wins the popular vote, it will be dicier; there will be pressure on Dems to go against the party.

    But the odd of a tie have got to be incredibly small.

  3. Thanks Folkbum. This time I was the lazy one.

    And yes, it’s pretty much impossible that it would be necessary.

  4. There was a book I read many, many moons ago speculating on a scenario for 1968 (yes, that’s a long time ago!). Seems no one got a majority of the electoral vote (Thanks to George Wallace) and the House couldn’t make up its mind for president.

    So the Senate votes (one man, one vote there, gota love anachronisms!), and we wind up with a Democratic vice-president, who promptly set about to have the Republican candidate voted president. Or maybe it was vice versa. It’s been awhile.

    One further note: Twenty-six votes are needed in the House. In looking at the delegation 27 are majority Democrat, 21 are majority Republican and 2 are split. Eighteen of these delegations are one vote majority–many of them being the states with one representative.

    And one more (I promise!), I think the Senate would elect the vice-president.

  5. Its looking like that may be the case. Barr may very well knock both McCain and Obama off in Texas. Rules are rules as they say.


  6. Well, Henry, since third parties regularly get shafted and enforcing a rule like that would throw the election to the House, I doubt it will go anywhere.

  7. Nancy Ngo says:

    I’m too tired to answer.


  9. a-llo
    good job dean mundy!!
    i had to memorize all the amendments for SS so yes it is the 12th if u have anymore qs ask meee!!!
    (w/ a name like smuckers it has to be good!!)

  10. this is good crap. its helping me with my homework. 😀