Tags: 'What | If' | Scenarios | Add | Spark | Election

'What If' Scenarios Add Spark to Election

Wednesday, 01 November 2000 12:00 AM

One candidate, for example, could win the popular vote while the other presidential hopeful walks out with a majority of the Electoral College vote. That has happened only three times in our nation’s history: John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 and Benjamin Harrison in 1888 all ended up in the White House despite losing the popular vote.

And it almost happened in 1976. Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford by about 1.7 million votes. A switch of a mere 5,500 votes in Ohio and 6,500 votes in Mississippi would have handed both to Ford, giving him an Electoral College victory.

It’s not all that outlandish to suggest this is what could happen Tuesday. As a matter of fact, the Bush and Gore campaigns have thought seriously about the possibility that Bush might win the popular vote handily and still lose the electoral vote.

To the Gore people, the answer is simple: "Then we win," a Gore aide told the New York Daily News.

"You play by the rules in force at the time. If the nation were really outraged by the possibility, then the system would have been changed long ago. The history is clear."

But if it does happen, don’t expect the Bush campaign to simply walk away.

"The one thing we don't do is roll over," a Bush aide told the News. "We fight."

The strategy for such a fight relies on widespread public outrage, which the Bush campaign would be ready to encourage and foment into a popular movement to convince the 538 electors chosen in Tuesday’s elections to switch to Bush, which is legally permissible.

When you vote for president you're really selecting presidential electors who favor one candidate or the other. But these electors are not legally obligated to support the candidate to whom they are pledged when they meet in their various state capitals to cast their ballots on Dec. 18.

Although the rules differ from state to state, it’s possible that enough of the Gore electors could switch to Bush – if they wanted to – and enable him to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The Bush campaign is already putting together material about the obvious unfairness of the Electoral College process, and it would be fed to talk radio and friendly media to stir up the natives.

"We'd have ads, too," the Bush aide said, "and I think you can count on the media to fuel the thing big time. Even papers that supported Gore might turn against him because the will of the people will have been thwarted."

Should the result go the other way, and were Bush to win the electoral vote while Gore won the popular vote, Gore would also fight.

"Then we'd be doing the same thing Bush is apparently getting ready for," a Gore campaign official told the News. "They're just further along in their contingency thinking than we are. But we wouldn't lie down without a fight, either."

Suppose George Bush and Al Gore end up tied in the electoral vote. It’s conceivable that the 538 members of the Electoral College could split 269-269.

The federal official responsible for coordinating the Electoral College told Fox News he put some hypothetical state-by-state results into a computer and was stunned to discover that "it wasn't all that hard to conjure a tie" for Bush and Gore.

In the event of an Electoral College tie, the whole mess would end up in the lap of Congress, where the presidential election would be held in the House and each state would have one vote.

The Senate would select the new vice president under the same voting conditions.

With each legislative body voting for a different office, it is possible we could end up with Bush as president and Joe Lieberman as the vice president – or with Gore as president and Dick Cheney as his V.P.

Then there’s the chance that the vote in the House could end up in a tie – 25 votes for each candidate.

If no new president or vice president has been elected by Inauguration Day, the Presidential Succession Act ordains that the speaker of the House serve as acting president, followed by the president pro tempore of the new Senate – in this case possibly 98-year-old Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.

"There is a law or a rule for every one of these things," Berns said. "All they have to do is follow the rules and we'll end up with a president."

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One candidate, for example, could win the popular vote while the other presidential hopeful walks out with a majority of the Electoral College vote. That has happened only three times in our nation's history: John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 and...
'What,If',Scenarios,Add,Spark,Election
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2000-00-01
Wednesday, 01 November 2000 12:00 AM
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