Individual races in the House of Representatives may matter more than usual this year.
After all, there’s a reason why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and even President Trump have alluded to why individual House contests could have exponential impact, depending on who wins and loses in which state.
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To be clear, there are few scenarios where Democrats could lose control of the House this fall. The current breakdown is 232 Democrats to 197 Republicans and one Libertarian, Rep. Justin Amash, L-Mich. There are five vacancies. Democrats are likely to add to that majority this fall.
However, here’s the problem: potential election chaos.
As we reported in this space last month, the House and Senate are the ultimate arbiters of determining how many electoral votes go to each presidential candidate. This is usually a fait accompli, established during a rather sleepy Joint Session of Congress every fourth January.
If the House and Senate can’t sort out the electoral college, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution pitches the presidential election into the House. The House of Representatives then votes to elect the new President. This is called a “contingent election.”
Believe it or not, this has happened twice. The House elected Thomas Jefferson in 1801 and John Quincy Adams in 1825.
Easy, right? If the Democrats control the House and there is electoral bedlam, they’ll just elect Democratic nominee Joe Biden as President, right?
Not at all.
The 12th Amendment to the Constitution says that “But in choosing the President, the votes shall by taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote.”
In other words, each state gets one vote. This is why individual House delegations – and whether they favor Democrats are Republicans – is paramount in a contingent election. The House chooses among the top three electoral college vote-getters: Mr. Trump, Biden and, maybe, anyone else who scores an electoral vote.
Remember, Faith Spotted Eagle marshaled one electoral vote in 2016.
And you thought 2020 was weird.
Right now, Republicans control the House delegations from 26 states. Democrats control 22. The battleground state of Pennsylvania is tied at nine Republicans and nine Democrats. The swing state of Michigan favors Democrats over Republicans seven seats to six. But there’s Amash, the Libertarian. And Amash is retiring. So, it’s kinda-sorta split right now, technically seven to seven. And Amash’s district leans Republican. So, there could be a tie in Michigan as well.
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich is retiring in Michigan, too. The seat tilts slightly in favor of Republicans. What if Democrats flip it? And, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., won what had been a GOP district in 2018. Slotkin’s district slightly favors Democrats now. But what if Republicans win that? And Democrats win Upton’s seat? Or vice versa? Or Republicans win all of them?
The Michigan delegation could slope toward the Democrats. If….if….Republicans hold the 26 state delegations they currently control, Democrats just need to capture