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Obama-Romney electoral deadlock a live possibility

October 22, 2012|By Paul West
  • A 2012 United States presidential election absentee ballot shows the names of candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
A 2012 United States presidential election absentee ballot shows the names… (Sean Gallup / Getty Images )

A new national poll is showing a dead heat in the presidential contest, making this an opportune time to revisit the question of whether the Nov. 6 election might produce a 269-269 electoral vote tie.

The prospect of an electoral deadlock has been around for months. It was explored here over the summer, with an explanation of why a tie would likely result in Mitt Romney becoming president.

Intrade, the online prediction market, currently pegs the chances of an electoral-college tie at 5% (down from a peak of 10% earlier this month). Heading into the final two weeks of the campaign, Romney and President Obama were at 47% each in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, released Sunday night. 

Of course, the White House is won in 51 separate elections, not by the national popular vote. And at this point, the outcome in 42 states and the District of Columbia seems to be pretty much locked in. That leaves just eight tossup states, where neither man has opened up a lead greater than 3 percentage points in the latest RealClearPolitics polling averages, to decide the election.

INTERACTIVE: Battleground states map

For an electoral deadlock to occur, Romney has to carry five of them: Florida, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada. He currently holds a tiny lead in two, Florida and Colorado. Virginia is tied. He trails by 3 points in Nevada and 2.4 in Iowa (again, these are RealClearPolitics averages).

Obama needs to carry Wisconsin, Ohio and New Hampshire. He currently has a slender edge in the first two and is behind in New Hampshire by one point.

Over the next two weeks, in other words, Obama would need to gain just over one percentage point in New Hampshire. Romney would have to pick up a little more than three points in Nevada, two and a half in Iowa and anything at all in Virginia. The remaining tossup states would have to wind up where they are leaning now.

Will it happen? Probably not.

Could it? Absolutely.

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paul.west@latimes.com

Twitter: @paulwestdc

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