Bil Browning

Create your own electoral college map

Filed By Bil Browning | September 22, 2008 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, election 2008, Electoral College, John McCain, swing states

I spent way too long playing with this little graphic of the electoral college map over the weekend. I left it on the nightmare scenario, but you can choose "2008 Swing States" from the drop down menu and create your own prediction.

<p><strong>><a href='http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/interactives/campaign08/electoral-college/'>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

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Don't ya love those things? I've spent (wasted?) way too much time playing with those maps!

I'm optimistic that Obama will break 300 when it's all said and done - extremely optimistic days will have me plugging in a 349 or higher on the map! :)

The concept of a 269-269 tie vote (or any vote, unlikely as it is because the the effect of much weaker third paries) in the Electoral College, raises the spectre of the House of Representatives deciding the Presidency and the Senate deciding the Vice-Presidency. The Senate result would almost certainy go according to which party controls, likely to be the Democrats. The House vote is by individual states, with one vote per each state, and that may or may not follow who has overall majority control. As to the likely outcome of such a scenario: Hint: It ain't Obama-Palin.

I came up with 336. Way too optimistic on my part. But I would love to see North Carolina go blue, and he is only one point behind there.


If it went to the House and Senate it would be the last act of the current House and Senate not the next one.So it depends on how delegations are split on how there one vote would go it makes a big difference if they are split between the parties. Look for back room deals if there are not enough members of the same party to carry a state one way or the other.

Back in the 60s when the Georgia House had to pick between Maddaox and Calloway many a rep simply voted Democrate and ignored there district and soon were out of a job due to voting party line and ignoring there voters.

Cathy:

I'm not sure I agree with you statement that if the matter of Presidential/Vice Presidential election must take place in one or both houses of Congress, it is the "last act of the current House and Senate". The official web page of the National Archivist, at least for the 2004 elections, contains the following:

"On or Before January 3, 2005:

Transmission of Certificates of Ascertainment to Congress - As the new Congress assembles, the Archivist transmits copies of the Certificates of Ascertainment to Congress. This generally occurs in late December or early January when the Archivist and/or representatives from the Federal Register meet with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House. This is, in part, a ceremonial occasion. Informal meetings may take place earlier.


January 6, 2005

Counting Electoral Votes in Congress - The Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes (Congress may pass a law to change the date). The President of the Senate is the presiding officer. If a Senator and a House member jointly submit an objection, each House would retire to its chamber to consider it. The President and Vice President must achieve a majority of electoral votes (270) to be elected. In the absence of a majority, the House selects the President, and the Senate selects the Vice President. If a State submits conflicting sets of electoral votes to Congress, the two Houses acting concurrently may accept or reject the votes. If they do not concur, the votes of the electors certified by the Governor of the State would be counted in Congress."

Over the years I've watched a number of January opening day ceremonies in Congress, including the swearing in of the entire new House as well as approximatley 1/3 of the Senators that stood for election the prior November. The above refers to a "joint session" in January, and to the best of my recollection, this is the new, not the old Congress. But if you have contrary informaion, please let me know, as I am working on a future Bilerico posting concerning this.

I can't point to anything offhand, but I was under the impression that it is the incoming Congress that does such deciding - which, I believe, was one of the reasons that the Tom DeLay-engineered gerrymandering of Texas' congressional districts in 2003 could potentially have been of importance to more than just the now-former Dem House members who got screwed. Prior to the gerrymandering, in a House vote for determination of the presidency, Texas actually would have gone Dem, but with the magically (and crookedly) re-drawn districts - whose beneficiaries did not take office until Jan. 2005 - Texas would have been a Repug vote had the 2004 election gone to the House.

Id have to look but im pretty sure the old congress would vote in a tie you are correct that the new congress records the votes as voted buy the states EC ballots. Time to google this to be sure.

Amendment 12 (1804)

The electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;--The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;--the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.


This is the only thing I could find that gave a date persay "the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President."
So if the new house had already convined they would cast the votes if not the old would come out of recess and cast there votes? So it depends who is in session the old or the new.

Interesting thought even if it is the new would Sentors Obama, Biden, and McCain all vote for the pick of VP or would they abstane there votes?As all 3 would be members of the new senate untill they resign to take up higher office?

Cathy, I'm still also looking further to see if there is anything more definitive concerning the "new" versus the "old" congress. As to the question of Obama, McCain or Biden abstaining (whether considered in the "new" or "old" Senate, a concept which doesn't quite fit because the Senate is a "continuing body" and the question would be the status of their own particular term), since the VP slot is involved only Biden would be in a position of voting for himself. Although such a vote might be considered a prime example of a "conflict of interest", I know of nothing that would prohibit such a self-vote, and in a close you I have no doubt that such a vote would be cast.

I highly doubt it'll end up a tie. In my scenario, Ohio and Indiana both went for McCain. In real life, I think they'll both go for Obama. :)

Ooops - forgot Virginia, Montana, Florida and North Carolina too. So my "real" guess would be Obama 358 McCain 180.

When I was a kid growing up back in the '40s, I would hear my Dad and the radio talking about what I thought was "The Electrical College". Given the technological wonders that have produced the map/toy you're playing with here, maybe my initial impression wasn't as far off the mark as I've considered it to be.

My scenario puts Ohio and Florida out of play as swing states. Obama wins no matter what happens there.

Neat toy!

I basically followed historical voting patterns and still came up with an Obama win. One can only hope.

I called my map 'The Cherry Filling' because of all the red in the middle.

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/2008/pick-your-president/5415/

Ok why I say it might be the current congress is this the EC is set to meet on Dec. 15 which is the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.In this day and age the votes will be known piror if not as soon as they are cast.So if its a tie the American people and press will know by the end of the day and will be screaming for the Congress ie this one to reconvine and get us a President and Vice President before New Years.Remember this is not the 1800s when who won the vote took months to reach every one CNN etc will have it on the news asap! But personaly I feel it will be over by that Friday after the 4.

Cathy (and anybody else still with us on this fast-aging thread that's taken a focus not quite intended by Bil when he originally posted on the Electoral College, I believe I've located the answer on which Congress, "old" or "new", counts the electoral votes and, in the absence of a majority, does its own thing concerning the election of President and/or Vice President.

In reality, as a review of the Constitutional provisions already cited show, the Constitution really doesn't say, but Congress has the authority to fill in such blanks by legislation. It has done so in Title 3, Chapter 1, Section 15 of the United States Code. Its title is "Counting electoral votes in Congress", and it begins by saying:

"Congress shall be in session on the sixth day of January succeeding every meeting of the electors. [which elsewhere is set in mid-December of the previous year] The Senate and House of Representatives shall meet in the Hall of the House of Representatives at the hour of 1
o'clock in the afternoon on that day, and the President of the Senate shall be their presiding officer."

Given how the terms of office are specified elsewhere, this dictates that it is the "new" and not the "old" Congress.

And that makes sense, when you stop to think about it. The new congress represents the most recent "will of the people" in the November elections, the same ones in which they went to the polls to choose who they want as President and Vice President (indirectly through the Electoral College). If popular sentiment was such that it rejected both the party of the outgoing administration and also their congressional representatives, it would be seen as thwarting that will if the rejected outgoing crowd could have a say in choosing the next administration.

But, I would note, Congress, with the concurring signature of the President, can always change the law, including that one, and I can see the possibility of a situation where in mid-December (and likely earlier), it appears that there won't be a majority in the Electoral College, and if the outgoing President, and majorities in Congress are such that they can change the law to make the "counting session" take place in December, they could pre-empt the new Congress.

Stuff of Tom Clancy novels or political science/constitutinal law exams? You bet. But then there are always geeks and junkies like me who thrive on this stuff!

Sorry Bil and Alex. Please continue playing with your new electoral map toy.

Hi Don thanks for the info but would Speaker Nancy Pelosi want to be the most damned woman in America all because she chose to wait for January 6? I dont think so she and Senator Harry Reid will call a counting session and be done with it.

Sorry, Cathy, but if she and/or Reid were to do this it would simply violate the law and set up a sucessful court challange. It's fun to speculate on things like this but despite the Bush Administration's attempts otherwise, even Judges Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito would see the law and constitution correctly on this one and uphold the rule of law. If you have legal academic resources that think otherwise, though, feel free to disagree.

The Congress is in session until the new one takes over even if it is in recess or adjorned so a recall of Congress would not be in violation of any law.So even if they are adjorned for business they still may be recalled into session. So what law is this in violation of?Answer none.

This is from Wikipedia

Term
The House of Representatives elects a Speaker to preside over debates. The President pro tempore of the Senate, by contrast, holds office continuously; normally, a new President pro tempore is only elected if the previous one retires, or if there is a change in the majority party.

A term of Congress is divided into two "sessions," one for each year; Congress has occasionally also been called into an extra, (or special) session. (The Constitution requires Congress to meet at least once each year.) A new session commences on January 3 (or another date, if Congress so chooses) each year. Before the Twentieth Amendment, Congress met from the first Monday in December to April or May in the first session of their term (the "long session"); and from December to March 4 in the second "short session". (The new Congress would then meet for some days, for the inauguration, swearing in new members, and organization.)

The Constitution forbids either house from meeting any place outside the Capitol, or from adjourning for more than three days, without the consent of the other house. The provision was intended to prevent one house from thwarting legislative business simply by refusing to meet. To avoid obtaining consent during long recesses, the House or Senate may sometimes hold pro forma meetings, sometimes only minutes long, every three days. The consent of both bodies is required for Congress's final adjournment, or adjournment sine die, at the end of each congressional session. If the two houses cannot agree on a date, the Constitution permits the President to settle the dispute.

Cathy, it's my belief that Amendment XX to the Constitution, which specifies that the term of Senators and Members of the House ends at noon on January 3rd, reflected in legislation (2 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 1 for the Senate; 2 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 7 for the House)controls the matter. While a session of Congress can control when it finally adjourns, etc., when the underlying terms end at noon on January 3rd, that's it. If it were not, an "old" Congress could just keep itself in session and refuse to accede to the "new" one.

January 3rd is known popularly as "organization day", when new legislators are sworn in. Per the sections I've referred to earlier, three days later on January 6th, they are required to meet on January 6th. I simply fail to see how, given that legally required sequence, a counting (and more importantly, if no majority is reached, votes for President/Vice-President), would legally permit the "old" Congress to do it earlier, or barricade itself in the Capitol Building after noon on January 3rd and usurp the newly elected bodies.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 25, 2008 8:46 AM

I think that it is evident that you are right Don. Remembering 2000 Al Gore presided at the Senate by law on a specific date (not that I remember the exact day) after "Bush's Daddy's" Supreme Court elected not to rule on the authenticity of the Florida ballots/recount/dangling chad hunt/best damn stolen election since Kennedy in 1960!

Ah Chicago, those were the days! "D Mare" was in charge and with the help of the right boys from "The Outfit" all proceeded smoothly. A favorite quote of mine from Richard Daley (the father) is: "Vote early, vote often."

Now that 48 years has passed it has become just too darn squeaky clean. I shared a class at Purdue in Journalism with Kathy Kalber who's dad was Floyd Kalber the NBC anchor in Chicago. In 1972 the teacher made the offhand comment about how good the Chicago media was at reporting corruption. Kathy immediately said: "That, is because there is so much of it."

270? Nah. too low. Try 370. But obama will have to carry. West Virginia Missippi and florida not to mention colorado and ohio. IIt will be tough but people are informing me the colorado will go blue. its not MSNBC or any other news station....It's my friends down there seeing first hand. Missippi is a stretch but The polls are showing strong gains for democrats. I know states like Oklahoma and New Mexico will go blue when New York goes red but a liberal can dream eh?

"Obama for Your momma." Wow that was childish.

On my map it comes out a McCain-Palin victory as OH,FL,NC,CO,and maybe even PA and MN could go for McCain.

Look at the current polling - or any news source outside of FOX - and I think you'll see your folly.