House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is preparing for the off-chance that neither President Trump nor Joe Biden will win an outright Electoral College victory – leaving the fate of the presidency to the House of Representatives.
In such a scenario – which hasn’t happened since 1876 – each state’s delegation would receive a single vote in the House. Per Politico:
Who receives that vote is determined by an internal tally of each lawmaker in the delegation. This means the presidency may not be decided by the party that controls the House itself but by the one that controls more state delegations in the chamber. And right now, Republicans control 26 delegations to Democrats’ 22, with Pennsylvania tied and Michigan a 7-6 plurality for Democrats, with a 14th seat held by independent Justin Amash.
In other words, if this long-shot scenario happens, the presidency could be decided by a single seat, while there would certainly be extended legal challenges over victors in House races, as national party leaders and their legal teams would be scrambling to determine the number of seats available to each party.
In a Sunday letter to House Democrats, Pelosi urged them to consider the scenario when determining where to focus resources on winning more seats in November. In typically red states such as Alaska and Montana, Democrats could focus efforts on races where Democrats have been competitive statewide. As Politico notes, “In these states, Democratic victories could flip an entire delegation with a single upset House victory.”
“The Constitution says that a candidate must receive a majority of the state delegations to win,” wrote Pelosi. “We must achieve that majority of delegations or keep the Republicans from doing so.”