Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dreaming of Plurality

We’ve just returned from the future – December 18th, 2012 to be exact – and the lead story in the newspaper we picked up for "investment advice" said the following:

WASHINGTON - The Electoral College has voted and, as predicted by the general election results, no candidate received the 270 votes required to be elected as President of the United States. President Barack Obama received 213 votes, Governor Mitt Romney received 165 votes and Mayor Michael Bloomberg received 160 votes as every state adhered to their usual practice of voting in line with their state’s election results.

Per the rules of the Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution, the election is now in the hands of the House of Representatives who, for the first time since 1825, will be required to choose the President. Each state’s delegation is permitted only one vote (no vote for the District of Columbia) and the candidate who receives 26 or more votes will become the President-elect. The House will continue voting until a candidate receives 26 votes.

Despite receiving a plurality of the popular vote, it will be virtually impossible for President Obama to receive the 26 votes necessary to get re-elected given the large Republican majority in the House (33 state delegations have Republican majorities).

While President Obama’s outlook is bleak, the outlook for the other two candidates is less clear. The ultimate result will depend on whether House Republicans decide to remain loyal to the Republican Party nominee or whether they will remain loyal to their constituents’ votes. If they remain loyal to the Republican Party, Governor Romney has a clear path to the White House; however, if the delegates remain loyal to their constituents’ votes, it will be a battle between Governor Romney supporters, Mayor Bloomberg supporters, and potentially even Democratic state delegates. The wild card in this voting process is the Democratic states, who, knowing that a vote for President Obama is a wasted vote, could vote for Mayor Bloomberg in an attempt to prevent the more conservative Governor Romney from reaching the Presidency.

There will be urgency to this battle as the Twelfth Amendment requires that a President be selected before March 4th, the failure of which will result in the Vice President being named as President.

The Vice President will be selected by the Senate following a similar procedure, except that all Senators are permitted to vote and only the candidates with the top two Electoral College votes are eligible. Therefore, only Vice President Joe Biden and Governor Nikki Haley are permitted on the ballot, and with a clear Democratic majority in the Senate, it’s almost certain that Vice President Biden will have 4 more years in One Observatory Circle.

Both the House and the Senate have called sessions to hold the special elections tomorrow at 10am.
Imagine the chaos this election result would produce? Cable TV could spontaneously combust at the mere possibility of this scenario. Democrats would be up in arms about losing another election after receiving the most votes and Republicans would be fuming about the entrance of a right-leaning independent into the race, poaching votes from their nominee, a la Ross Perot (even though they would likely win any House vote).

We’d love it.

This would solidify the viability of an independent or third party candidate in our way- too-polarized world of politics. The 2012 election is shaping up as the perfect venue for this to occur. Numerous Democrats are unhappy with President Obama, Governor Romney (or whoever wins the Republican primary) will be too far to the right for many moderate Republicans, and independents are itching for the chance to vote for a reasonable candidate who’s not beholden to the pure and strict Democratic or Republican views on life. Even if Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Huntsman, the Americans Elect nominee (by the way, we love this idea, but not sure it's ready for 2012) or any other viable moderate fails to win the general election outright, they will have set the stage for independents to confidently run as such in their local elections – whether it is for city councils, state legislatures, seats in Congress or future Presidential elections.

The 2012 election could go down in the history books as the year independent candidates became relevant and took their rightful spot alongside the out-dated duopoly of the Democratic and Republican parties.

We hope our trip in the flux-capacitor-powered Delorean is prescient and not just a naively optimistic dream…


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