Tie Vote? Obama-McCain Electoral Tie Scenario

Nancy Pelosi for President?

But what if there was a tied electoral vote, neither presidential candidate could get a 26-state delegation majority in the House, and the Senate deadlocked on the vice presidential pick?

Then, Fortier said, the Presidential Succession Act would kick in.

"That would be the speaker of the House," Fortier said, " So the acting president would be Rep. Nancy Pelosi."

If Congress never decides on the president or the vice president, the speaker of the House could serve all four years as president, Fortier said.

Farfetched as it may seem, an electoral vote tie has happened before.

The 1800 presidential election resulted in a tied electoral vote between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. The House ultimately decided in Jefferson's favor, which is why it's Jefferson's likeness you see on Mount Rushmore and on the nickel instead of Burr's.

That presidential election hiccup led to the 12th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says the House picks the president and the Senate decides the vice president.

Congress again intervened in disputed elections in 1824, and in 1876, which was ultimately decided by a special electoral commission.

Say What?! Tie Vote Possible but Unlikely

There is a 0.48 percent chance of an electoral tie, according to Nate Silver, who runs the www.fivethirtyeight.com Web site that has run the numbers on various election-night scenarios.

That's about a one-in-200 chance of the tie-vote scenario actually happening.

"It's still a possibility this year," said Nathan Gonzales, political director of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report. "It's unlikely but it could happen."

Before the 2004 election, The Washington Post reported that a computer analysis found no fewer than 33 combinations in which 11 battleground states could divide to produce a 269 to 269 electoral tie.

It's hard to imagine an election closer than 2000, where former Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote and then-Texas governor George W. Bush won a majority of electoral college votes.

But November's presidential election is gearing up to be closer than expected. Despite public unease with the war in Iraq, an economy in turmoil, and an unpopular Republican president, Obama leads McCain by only 3 percentage points among likely voters, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Campaigns Fight for Battleground States

The electoral vote numbers game is why the campaigns spend millions of dollars on television ads and get-out-the-vote organization in key battleground states.

Florida, the state that ultimately decided the 2000 election, has 27 electoral votes up for grabs -- the biggest electoral prize of the battleground states. Next is Pennsylvania with 21 electoral votes, Ohio with 20 electoral votes and Michigan with 17 votes.

The presidential and vice presidential candidate who win the popular vote get all the electoral college votes in every state except Nebraska and Maine, which allocate their electoral votes proportionally.

With more than three months to go before Americans go to the polls, political junkies are running the electoral vote numbers, as are the campaigns -- all trying to figure out which state will hold the key this November to the White House.

"We've identified 14 battleground states where the candidates and the campaigns are going to devote the most resources and spend the most time," said ABC News political director David Chalian.

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