The putrid heap of orange-tinted lard in the White House will do everything in his power to stay there after Jan. 20, 2021. That includes installing a Supreme Court justice with experience in stealing presidential elections. While the Senate Democrats are still grappling with that particular issue, House Democrats are working on how they're respond to various scenarios, including the scariest: a for-real, legitimate tied electoral vote should that happen.
This is about being prepared for the worst, so don't panic or anything because Trump's polling is still very, very bad for him. But with minority rule being the norm in American governance, it's not impossible that we end up with a tied electoral college. That's what led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to start mobilizing her team with a letter sent Sunday reminding them of the House's responsibility and what they need to do now. Which is basically make sure Democrats win House races in hopes of flipping a few delegations.
It hasn't happened since 1876, but here's how it works in the event of a tie: Each state's delegation gets a single vote. That means holding a majority of state delegations in the chamber. Despite the fact that there are 232 Democrats and 198 Republicans, Republicans still have the delegation edge—all those at-large and one to three member rural red states represented by Republicans have given them a 26-22 edge. So here we go again, the popular vote loser, the candidate that is in opposition to the ruling majority in the House, could still get the majority of votes in the warped Congress and take it all.
"The Constitution says that a candidate must receive a majority of the state delegations to win," Pelosi wrote. "We must achieve that majority of delegations or keep the Republicans from doing so." There are some very close states. Pennsylvania is tied, with nine Democratic seats and nine Republican. Michigan is barely Democratic, seven to six with independent Justin Amash holding the 14th seat there. He's retiring and is likely to be replaced by a Republican. Every single seat matters more than ever this cycle, even though Democrats will easily retain the House.
They need seats to flip, but they need seats where they also get the state delegation. Two they're eyeing right now are Montana's and Alaska's. They're at-large seats, where there's just one seat for the entire state. Our Daily Kos elections team just moved Montana from Likely R to Lean R, with Democratic challenger Kathleen Williams holding a 46-44 edge in the polling average. In Alaska, Democrats are looking the Alyse Galvin to unseat the longest serving member of Congress, Don Young. Galvin is a registered independent, but gained the challenger's spot in the state, which allows independents to contest in party primaries. In 2018, she gave Young the toughest challenge he's had in three decades, getting 46.5% of the vote.
Other than those flips, it's about consolidating seats in close delegations and defending swing state seats. Democrats have a one- or two-vote seat advantage in seven states where they have to make sure vulnerable members stay safe: Arizona (Democratic edge 5-4), Iowa (Democratic edge 3-1), Maine (2 Democrats), Minnesota (4-3 Democratic edge), Nevada (3-1 Democratic edge), and New Hampshire (2 Democrats). Florida has a one-seat Republican advantage, 14 to Democrats' 13. The Alaska and Montana at-large seats are held by Republicans, meaning a Democrat would change the delegation’s vote in a presidential tally.
"We're trying to win every seat in America, but there are obviously some places where a congressional district is even more important than just getting the member into the U.S. House of Representatives," Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat and constitutional lawyer, told Politico. This means that Democrats are not just focusing on protecting vulnerable Democrats, but expanding the map.
If House Democrats are preparing for this eventuality, you can be sure that they are gaming out other possible challenges Trump will bring. It’s a balancing act for Pelosi, realizing she has to both combat Trump—she even obliquely threatened a potential second impeachment effort to gum up Senate works and prevent a rushed Supreme Court appointment—and not rocking the boat so much she could tip vulnerable Democrats in those key delegations overboard.