GOP House could decide who will be president

As Obama's electoral map shrinks, the House's power is cast into view. Photo: Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY, October 19, 2012 — For the first time in the presidential race, the Real Clear Politics average of electoral votes has Romney in the lead, 206 - 201.

This reflects the huge swings in voter surveys and shift in momentum that took began earlier this month. Since September 30, Governor Romney has gained 15 potential electoral votes, and the president has lost 64 - a 79 votes swing in a race in which a 269 vote tie gives Romney a victory.

The development is consistent with the mood of the country. Barack Obama was elected in 2008 with 52% of the popular vote. If the election were held today, he would get somewhere closer to 47%, about what John McCain got. Overall, it is safe to say that the president has lost at least 5% support among voters.

That popular mood will translate into an electoral college victory fairly easily if things hold up for Governor Romney. For all the talk of a wide-open map for the president, one with many paths to re-election, his prospects are diminishing in a number of states once thought to locked up.

There is a surprisingly unmiraculous path for Romney to acquire the electoral votes necessary to win the presidency. If he holds what the averages tell us he should right now, he stands at 206. Add Florida (29) and Virginia (13), states that many say are swinging decisively to the GOP challenger, and Romney is suddenly at 248.

It is not inconceivable that Romney takes Iowa (6) and the Western states of Nevada (6) and Colorado (9), which would bring him to 269.

But aren’t 270 electoral college votes required to win? Yes, but 269 apiece would result in a tie, in which case the election gets decided by the House of Representatives, where Republicans currently enjoy a 50-member advantage.

If Obama thought the GOP-controlled House obstructed him before, he ain’t seen nothing yet.

Under this scenario, Romney wins without Ohio, Wisconsin, or New Hampshire. Suddenly, the president needs to fight hard for those states that were supposed to give him a wide margin. It is now the president who must run the table on the closest swing states.

Less than three weeks remain between now and the day we find out how many electors each candidate will secure. Barack Obama needs to hope that many of the toss-ups break his way, or else his presidency will come to an end in a matter of months.


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Rich is a teacher and a soldier. In addition to writing the “Rich Like Me” political column at the Washington Times Communities, he is the author of Nine Weeks: A Teacher’s Education in Army Basic TrainingTunnel Club; and Not Another Boring Textbook: A High School Students’ Guide to their Inner Conservative. 

He writes about Salt Lake City and the World in the Food and Travel section.


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Rich Stowell

Rich Stowell has written about politics and travel for the Washington Times Communities since 2011. He is a soldier in the Utah National Guard and a fellow at the Center for Communication and Community at the University of Utah. Rich is the author of "Nine Weeks: A Teacher's Education in Army Basic Training"and continues to blog about military issues at “My Public Affairs.”

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