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Presidential Election Tie A Possibility

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WASHINGTON -- A new poll showing the presidential race stuck in a dead heat is prompting the political chattering class to fantasize about the prospects for a deadlocked Electoral College next fall.

The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows President Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney tied at 47 percent among registered voters. Those numbers have hardly budged in 13 surveys, with either candidate holding the lead just twice during that time.

With just four months to go before Election Day and few signs that either candidate is about to pull away, political prognosticators are starting to handicap the odds of an Electoral College draw in which neither gets the 270 votes needed to win. Already several have colored in maps showing how a 269-269 tie could play out.

The latest scenario comes from Real Clear Politics's Erin McPike.

She writes that a deadlock is most likely to result if Romney carries every state John McCain won in 2008, which gives him 180 electoral votes once redistricting is taken into account. McPike then gives the Republican Indiana (11 electoral votes), Virginia (13), North Carolina (15), Florida (29), Ohio (18), and New Hampshire (4), for a total of 270 to 268 for Obama. But then she subtracts the one electoral vote Obama picked up under Nebraska's system, which eschews the winner-take-all allocation in most states. Voila! Romney ends up with just 269 and the election is sent to the House of Representatives. The incoming Congress gets the final say in a tie.

CORRECTION: This story previously cited the election of 1800 and misstated which candidates tied. The vote was settled at that time by the sitting, as opposed to the incoming, Congress.