3. Nebraska’s second district sends the election to the House.
In 2016, Evan McMullin’s third-party bid for the Mormon Never-Trump vote raised the possibility of Utah dropping out of the Republican column. In a close election, that could have meant that no candidate won a majority of the electoral votes — which would have thrown the election to the House of Representatives.
This year, there is no third-party candidate capable of winning any electoral votes — but a tie is still possible, particularly if Pennsylvania and the Southwest move in opposite directions in the last days of the campaign. In that case, we could wind up with a map something like the following…
What happens then? While the Democrats control the chamber, that wouldn’t matter for this vote. If the Electoral College deadlocks, the House decides the winner on the basis of one vote per state delegation. Right now, Republicans control 26 delegations — and it’s a safe bet that they’d vote to re-elect Trump even if he lost the popular vote by a substantial margin, regardless of the consequences to the legitimacy of our democratic institutions.
But that could change on Nov. 3. The newly-elected House is the one that gets to vote if there is no Electoral College winner. And if the Democrats gain a seat each in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida, and don’t lose their majority in Minnesota, then each party would control 25 delegations, and the House would be deadlocked as well. Then what? There is no constitutional provision for breaking a tie in the House of Representatives. However many ballots it might take, the House would have to keep voting until it chose a president.