Canisius Poli Sci Pundits Pose Electoral Vote Tie

November 6, 2012


President Mitt Romney and Vice President Joe Biden serving in the White House together? If you think it can’t happen, think again!

While the possibility is still extremely slim, Canisius Political Science Professors Michael V.  Haselswerdt, PhD and Kevin R. Hardwick, PhD believe there is a greater chance this election year than ever before that the presidential candidates could split the electoral votes evenly (269-269). The chance is increased because the presidential race is so tight – too close to call, most major polls show. 

“If that happens, the House of Representatives, which I believe will retain the Republican majority, will decide the president,” says Hardwick. “The Senate, which should retain the Democratic majority, will decide the vice president. That means that Joe Biden would be vice president for the next four years under President Mitt Romney. We would have the ‘Odd Couple on steroids,” he says with a laugh. 

The House has decided the president only three times in history. In 1800, it broke an electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr (Jefferson won).  In 1824 it decided a four-way race that ultimately elected John Quincy Adams. And in 1876, it decided the infamous Samuel J. Tilden/Rutherford B. Hayes race (Hayes won).  

“It’s more possible this time than it has been in a long time,” adds Haselswerdt, who says that electors have until December 17 to meet and vote in their respective states. Congress would vote on its first day back in session (On or around January 6). “To think that Congress would have to make that decision, when its approval rating is now inching into the double digits, is pretty wild.”

However, the more likely scenario, Hardwick forecasts, is that Romney will garner the majority of the popular votes but Obama will take the edge in electoral votes and be re-elected to his second term.   

While Hardwick (a Republican) and Haselswerdt (a Democrat), come from opposite sides of the political spectrum, they tend to agree on what the outcome of the presidential race will be, as well as several races key to Western New Yorkers.

Among them is that for the newly drawn 27th Congressional District of New York State. Incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul faces Republican challenger Chris Collins. The NY-27th now includes parts of Erie, Ontario, Monroe, and Niagara Counties, as well as all of Wyoming, Genesee, Orleans and Livingston Counties.

“People look at Hochul/Collins race, they see all the ads, and they think ‘oh it’s just so negative.’ In reality, it’s good for Erie Country because we have money coming from all over the country,” says Hardwick. “We can’t play in the presidential race but by God we are going to play in the House. There are some local ad execs driving around town in Ferraris.” 

Hardwick and Haselswerdt say that Hochul has campaigned hard and has the “likability” factor but both predict victory for Collins. “I can’t believe the race is as close as the polls say it is,” says Haselswerdt. 

Haselswerdt and Hardwick say New York State Senator Mark Grisanti (R) will “cruise” to victory over challengers Michael L. Amodeo (Democrat) and Chuck Swanick (Conservative). “With his running mate, Andrew Cuomo!” laughs Haselswerdt, referring to Grisanti campaign ads that show him alongside the New York State Governor.

Hardwick says a race that Western New Yorkers pay little attention to – but should – is that for Erie County comptroller. Republican Stephan Mychajliw, a former television reporter and public relations professional, is challenging the appointed Democratic incumbent, David J. Shenk.

“I think Mychajliw will win,” he says. “He has worked for it and it would be good for Republicans and good for the county executive.”

“I haven’t seen any data on that,” responds Haselswerdt. “And neither one of them knows anything about money!” But he agrees that name recognition, which Mychajliw has, will favor him in the election.

One thing that favors all Democratic candidates (in New York State) this year is that it is a presidential election year, say Hardwick and Haselswerdt, so voter turnout will be high. And will we have President Mitt Romney and Vice President Joe Biden in the White House? Stay tuned.