Salena Zito

“And we think today’s politics are divisive,” said Wasniewski. “It is rare that this country is not in a rancorous political moment.”

In 2008, candidate Barack Obama became president by racking up 365 electoral votes to opponent John McCain’s 173; he turned the traditional Republican-red states of Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and Florida to Democrat-blue and left McCain in the dust.

The political map that Obama is attempting to follow this year – thanks to a skeptical electorate that is not so enamored of his governance – narrows his electoral numbers to 273, and even that is based on a lot of assumptions.

“Should President Obama manage to keep Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico in the Democratic column, while Nevada, North Carolina, Iowa, Indiana, New Hampshire, Ohio and Florida return to the Republican column, a 269-269 tie would result,” according to presidential historian Lara Brown.

As a result of the Constitution’s 12th Amendment, choosing the president in a tie election goes to the newly elected members of the House, while choosing the vice president goes to the Senate.

“In short,” said Brown, “it is possible that Mitt Romney, assuming he wins the Republican Party's nomination, would become president, and Joe Biden would remain as the vice president” – that is, assuming Democrats retain control of the Senate and Republicans retain the House.

"After what is likely to be a highly negative, high-spending campaign, should the Congress select the president and the vice president, I imagine that the calls for reform of the Electoral College would be deafening from all sides of the partisan aisle,” Brown added.

In other words, if the first order of business in the next Congress is to select the president and the vice president, then the second order of business may well be to pass a constitutional amendment abolishing the Electoral College.

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.