Inside the Beltway: The odd scenario

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An unusual speculation on the election outcome emanates from a small campus in Buffalo, N.Y.: agitated America could end up with President Mitt Romney and Vice President Joseph R. Biden, insist Canisius College political science professors Michael Haselswerdt, a Democrat, and Kevin Hardwick, a Republican. The race is so close that there’s a viable chance that the presidential candidates could split the electoral votes evenly, 269-269.

‘“If that happens, the House, which I believe will retain the Republican majority, will decide the president,” explains Mr. Hardwick. “The Senate, which should retain the Democratic majority, will decide the vice president. That means that Joe Biden would be vice president for the next four years under President Mitt Romney. We would have the ‘Odd Couple’ on steroids.”

It’s happened three times. In 1800, the protocol broke an electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Jefferson won. In 1824, it decided a four-way race that ultimately elected John Quincy Adams. And in 1876, it decided the infamous Samuel J. Tilden vs. Rutherford B. Hayes race. Hayes won.

“It’s more possible this time than it has been in a long time,” adds Mr. Haselswerdt, who says that electors would have until Dec. 17 to vote in their respective states. Congress would vote on its first day back in session, on or around Jan. 6.

“To think that Congress would have to make that decision, when its approval rating is now inching into the double digits, is pretty wild,” the professor observes.

THE RUSHED YEAR

After years of vigorous campaign maneuvers among Democrats and Republicans, Election Day looms in a mere 24 hours. But whatever happened to 2012? Here’s how quickly the rest of the year will unfold in the next few weeks, right up to that biggest day of presidential pomp and circumstance. That is, of course, unless there’s a recount.

In 17 days, it’s Thanksgiving. In 34 days, Hanukkah begins. Christmas Day dawns in 50 days, and in 56 days, it’s New Year’s Eve. Last but not least, Inauguration Day will be along in 77 days — or 1,848 hours.

THE LAST HURRAH

Before they retire with family and allies to await the results of the election, here’s where the two principle stars will be on Monday: President Obama: Madison, Wis.; Columbus, Ohio. He will be in Chicago on election night. Mitt Romney: Sanford, Fla.; Lynchburg, Va.; Columbus, Ohio; Manchester, N.H. Mr. Romney will be in Boston on election night.

LAST HURRAH No. 2

Fresh from a debate Sunday evening attended only by journalists and moderated by Ralph Nader at the Busboys and Poets eatery in the nation’s capital, third party hopefuls go to their final encounter Monday night, broadcast live from the Washington studios of Russia Today television. Libertarian hopeful Gary Johnson and Green candidate Jill Stein will sum up their campaigns and hope for the best. See their big finale streamed online at freeandequal.org and rt.com.

“Political debates should not be rationed,” says Mr. Nader.

FORESCORE

“President Obama is trying to convince you the last four years were a success. He calls the plan ‘forward’ — I call it ‘forewarned.’ With the right leadership, America is going to come roaring back. We’re Americans. We can do anything.”

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