A slew of media reports — brokered by eager journalists — in the lead-up to next week’s presidential election is mulling the possibility of an election night debacle resulting from GOP contender Mitt Romney capturing the popular vote while President Barack Obama secures the Electoral College — and with it the presidency.
This scenario has occurred four times in American history, followed, each time, by calls to reform the way the country elects its presidents. Andrew Jackson picked up the largest number of popular votes in 1824, but fell short of a majority in the Electoral College, leading to congressional selection of John Quincy Adams as president.
Samuel Tilden faced a similar fate after winning the popular vote in his race for the White House in 1876, but failed to accumulate the necessary number of electors to stave off victory by eventual-president Rutherford B. Hayes.
Grover Cleveland joined the list in 1888 when he was bested — despite carrying the popular vote — in the Electoral College by Benjamin Harrison who strode into the White House on the strength of 65 more electors than Cleveland.
Vice President Al Gore went down in flames in 2000 when the Florida recount was halted by the U.S. Supreme Court, handing the election and the Sunshine State’s electoral votes to Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
But with Republican enthusiasm for taking back the White House at an all-time high, losing the election due to a constitutional technicality could result in advancing the issue of federal election reform further than it has ever gone and perhaps do something folks have not been able to do since the first presidential contender lost his race for the White House among electors — get rid of the Electoral College.
Republicans control a majority of state legislatures and could bypass Congress — should Democrats hold on to the Senate — to call a constitutional convention to jettison the current election system. Tougher, though, would be getting three-fourths of the states to do away with the process of slating electors, but angry GOPers at the state level would already have a head start due to the number of state houses they control.
Though this year’s party conventions in Charlotte, N.C., and Tampa, FL, were certainly lively to say the least, stay tuned for a possible constitutional convention — that should give the journalists plenty to talk about.