With election day less than two weeks away, and the presidential race being as tight as it is in many battleground states, it's hard not to think about the wacky scenarios that could bring an unexpected electoral victory--or even a tie--between President Obama and Mitt Romney. When you crunch numbers, there are many impossibilities that suddenly start to look very possible.
One scenario that both Republicans and Democrats acknowledge could happen is that Mitt Romney could win the popular vote but lose the White House. This would basically be a reverse scenario of the 2000 election, when Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore won more votes overall but lost the election, because George Bush beat him in the electoral college.
Breaking down the numbers, Romney has a more difficult path to winning the electoral college than Obama, assuming our current projections hold true. Even if Romney wins Ohio, Florida, and Virginia, the three biggest battleground states still up for grabs, it still doesn't bring him to the 270 electoral votes needed to declare victory. So long as Obama holds onto the smaller battleground states, many of which he's leading in the polls, the president would still beat Romney.
There's also the nuclear, though unlikely, scenario that the president and Romney could tie. One of the quirky things about the electoral college is that there's an even number of votes, 538 total. While it's never happened before and is not likely to happen this year, it's possible that Obama and Romney could tie with 269 votes each. If this did occur, the incoming Congress in January would act as the final tie-breaker to decide the election, with the House of Representatives choosing the next president and the Senate selecting the vice president. So, how exactly would this ridiculous situation play out?
In the House of Representative, a special vote would be called in which each state's delegation would cast one vote for the next president--so one vote per state. Republicans currently hold the majority of 33 state delegations in the House, and the upcoming election isn't expected to result in significant changes to the partisan majorities of state delegations. So, in this scenario, Mitt Romney would almost certainly win the vote and become the next president.
In the Senate, each senator would hold on vote in deciding on the next vice president. Democrats hold a slight majority in the current Senate, but it's possible that the scale could tip in the Republicans' favor in the upcoming election or that there could even be a 50-50 partisan split. Imagine this: If there were a 50-50 split, the president of the Senate would be the tie-breaking vote. In this laughable scenario, Vice President Joe Biden, who conveniently happens to be the president of the Senate, would be called in to vote for himself!
Check out this week's Top Line as we break down the electoral numbers to show you how these wacky scenarios could actually happen, or create a fantasy electoral college result of your own with our interactive fantasy map.
ABC's Jordyn Phelps contributed to this episode.