As the presidential nominating contest drags on, the political press sags with stories about the possibility of a brokered nominating convention — that is, a convention (almost certainly in the GOP) where no candidate has a clear majority of delegates before the nominating roll call begins.
It could take dozens of votes before delegates settle on a nominee.
Meh. A brokered convention is for ..... um, never mind. What about a brokered presidency?
Now we’re talking.
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If Michael Bloomberg gets in the race, it’s conceivable no candidate would get the required 270 electoral votes to claim the White House. Ponder a race with Bloomberg, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, for example, or Bloomberg, Marco Rubio, and Bernie Sanders.
What happens then?
The Constitution says the House of Representatives makes the choice, but not by individual votes. Instead, each state gets one vote. And it would take 26 states to win. (Read the 12th amendment for more.)
It’s easy to assume members would vote by party, which would be a problem for an independent like Bloomberg.
But it isn’t clear that would necessarily happen. Would members feel the need to vote as their constituents voted? Would a state support a Democrat if its voters wanted the Republican? Or the other way around?
And would the House actually pick a president who had lost the popular vote?
And could the House deadlock, without the needed 26 states for a president? Yes. Yes it could.
These aren’t just fever dreams. In 1992, with Ross Perot on the ballot, Congress considered the problems of a brokered presidential choice.
It hasn’t happened since 1825. On the other hand, lots of things that haven’t happened, are happening.