In the American political system, the president and vice president is elected by the Electoral College consisting of representatives of the various states which have a set number of electoral votes. The candidate who has 270 or more electoral votes will win. But what happens if neither major party candidate wins the number of votes necessary to win the election? Theoretically, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could each get 269 electoral votes, making the vote a tie. Also, special circumstances, such as Evan McMullin winning Utah or a faithless electoral voting for another candidate, as some have threatened to do, could cause both candidates to fall short..
In the case of a tie or no one getting the 270 votes, the presidential election would be thrown to the House and the vice presidential election to the Senate. The matter would likely be a pro forma operation. Republicans have majorities in both houses of Congress, so Donald Trump and Mike Pence would be elected under that contingency as a matter of course.
But the idea of an election being decided in Congress is something that modern Americans are not used to. The last time it happened was during the 1824 election when a four-way contest was decided by the House. John Quincy Adams, the son of the second American president and founding father John Adams, won the contest but served only one term before being beaten by Andrew Jackson.
Considering the toxic politics of 2016, amped up by cable news, talk radio, and social media, a repeat of 1824 would create a circus that would be fraught with poetic justice to end the most unusual election year in living memory.
Both sides would send armies of demonstrators to do battle in the streets of Washington. Lawyers would be deployed to find any loophole to impeach the results. Pressure would be brought to bear to members of Congress to vote one way or the other regardless of their political affiliation.
Therefore, it is fortunate that the chances of an election being thrown to the House are considered minuscule. But what were the chances that the presidential contest would be between a woman under federal investigation and a walking, talking spectacle such as Donald Trump? #Election 2016