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President Romney, vice-president Biden?

ANDRE BAGOO Sunday, November 4 2012

COULD Republican Mitt Romney end up in the White House as President, with Democrat incumbent President Barack Obama as his vice-president when the dust settles after Tuesday’s US election? It might seem to be a wacky thing to suggest, but this year’s race has been so close, pundits last week several times raised the possibility.

There’s never been a tie in the Electoral College, meaning the odds are against it. Yet, unlike Trinidad and Tobago’s currently constituted Parliament, such a tie is mathematically possible.

Imagine if incumbent President Obama wins the states leaning Democratic, including Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Mexico, while Romney wins the states now leaning Republican, including North Carolina.

Then assume Obama wins New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin. And Romney wins Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada and Virginia. The result would be a hung Electoral College: 269-269. The US president has to garner at least 270 college votes.

The stalemate would trigger the 12th Amendment of the Constitution which specifies that each state delegation would get a single vote, determined by the State’s new congressional delegation. Since Republicans control 33 state delegations, Romney is likely to win such a poll.

The Senate – controlled by Democrats 53-47, would have to choose the vice president. They could choose Biden. If the Senate deadlocks on this issue, then Vice President Biden would cast the deciding vote. And he could even vote for himself if he is the candidate put forward.

Yesterday, RealClearPolitics, a US politics website which aggregates all of the polls in order to come up with an overall index, placed Obama ahead on the popular vote by a slender 0.1 per cent (47.4 per cent favour Obama, 47.3 per cent Romney). However, Obama was more clearly ahead in the Electoral College (201 to 191). However, there were many toss-up states with substantial votes (146) namely: Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), Pennsylvania (20), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10).

The big question is whether there will be a high voter turn-out on Tuesday. Lower turnouts tend to favour the Republicans, and so if it rains on election day this would be a problem for Democrats.

Will there be a last-minute burst of euphoria in favour of the still charismatic Obama, in a bid to prevent the first black president from being unceremoniously dumped from office after a single term, on the heels of George W Bush winning a second term notwithstanding his war on Iraq?

Will the poll momentum previously enjoyed by Romney revert to the mean, putting Obama further ahead?

Will Obama’s handling of super-storm Sandy and the subsequent endorsement of Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Independent New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg move independent swing voters decisively?

Or will this election have been decided by the first of the three televised debates, which saw the wealthy Mitt Romney emerge as a plausible candidate in the eyes of many, when he managed to erase the damage done by the “47 per cent” scandal in which he was secretly video-taped calling average Americans “victims”? The election will answer important questions about America today. Email:abagoo@newsday.co.tt

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