Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sarah Palin: Leader of the Free World

Even typing that post title makes me shudder. It's a horrifying thought, isn't it? And part of the horror is the unique plausibility of it all. Despite the trends going against him right now, McCain could still feasibly win the election. Statistically, McCain has a 1 in 4 chance of dying in office. Sure he has "good genes", but those are not great odds. If you include the chances of serious disability that would inhibit ability to function as president, the odds get closer to 1-in-3 for McCain.

What does all this mean? Well, all things considered, the odds aren't all that bad for McCain. A 25% chance of death isn't too bad. But what it does mean is that Sarah Palin is under increased scrutiny as a candidate for the Vice Presidency. McCain is the oldest major party candidate in history, and the voters know it. If McCain were to die in office, the woefully unprepared Sarah Palin would take his place. Voters know this, and as such Palin is campaigning really for a position in limbo between the Presidency and the Vice Presidency. This makes her shortcomings even more apparent. If Palin screws up the Thursday debate royally, it could seriously endanger the ticket.

For a political junkie this universal lack of confidence in the readiness of Sarah Palin opens the door for crazy possibilities. What about a 269-269 electoral vote (e.g. Obama gets Kerry states plus Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado minus New Hampshire)?

<p><strong>><a href=''>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

In this case, the election gets tossed to congress. Some say that an election tie would favor Obama. I would tend to agree largely because the 12th amendment gives each state delegation one vote (i.e. one for Wyoming, one for California), and the in the incoming House Democrats will in all likelihood have a majority in a plurality of the delegations. Imagine though that McCain won the popular vote by a large margin (i.e. had strong 2nd place showings in the pacific and northeast and great GOTV in safe red states). In this case, House delegations from strong McCain states w/ a majority Democrat delegation (i.e. Arkansas, Tennessee, South Dakota, North Dakota, West Virginia, etc.) might be "forced" by public opinion to support McCain.

If the House does pick McCain in such a scenario, who's to say the majority Democrat senate has to pick Palin? Considering her plummeting favorability ratings, terrible interviews and glaring unreadiness, the Senate could easily select the obviously ready, willing and able Joe Biden. Imagine living in a pre-12th amendment world where the President and Vice President are voted for independently on the November ballot. Now imagine a McCain-Biden administration. Now imagine the also theoretically possible reverse: an Obama-Palin administration. No, stop laughing. Think about it. It's the longest of long shots, but hell if it isn't a fascinating possibility.

To see what kind of monkey wrench Biden or Palin could possibly throw into their own campaigns, tune in on Thursday to the Vice Presidential debates. Trust me, it's going to be fun. That much I guarantee.

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