Pollsters show Obama has significant leads in all the states (and the District of Columbia) won by Sen. John Kerry, who earned 251 electoral votes. In addition, polling indicates that Obama has opened up leads in Iowa (seven electoral votes) and New Mexico (five electoral votes), both of which were won by President Bush in 2004. If Obama can hold on to those leads he would have 263 electoral votes.
There are 22 states, totaling 173 electoral votes, that polling indicates are comfortably in McCain's camp.
That leaves seven toss-up states: Florida (27 electoral votes), Ohio (20 electoral votes), North Carolina (15 electoral votes), Virginia (13 electoral votes), Indiana (11 electoral votes), Colorado (nine electoral votes) and Nevada (five electoral votes).
In essence, as the polling indicates the political landscape today, McCain has to run that table of seven states to win. All seven are too close to call right now for pollsters and appear as toss-ups on most sites. By inserting that scenario on the map at 270towin.com, the site gives Obama a greater than 99 percent chance of winning.
So, Obama needs only one of those states to get to at least 269 electoral votes. If, for instance, he only wins Nevada, the Electoral College will be tied at 269. Obama should win in a tie because the next step would be a vote in the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats.
But that's not the only interesting fact concerning a possible tie. The Senate could pick the vice president before the new Congress is sworn in. If Sen. Joe Lieberman decided to vote against his former party, the Senate would be deadlocked 50-50. Vice President Dick Cheney would have to break the tie, potentially ushering in an Obama-Palin administration.
Constitutional experts cannot decide if the new Congress or the sitting Congress has the authority to make the decision.
Joseph Curl of the Washington Times wrote recently about another scenario.
The newly elected House, seated in January, is unable to muster a majority to choose a president after a 269-269 tie, but the Senate, which is expected to be controlled by Democrats, picks Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. from the Democratic ticket. If the House is still deadlocked at noon on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, Mr. Biden becomes acting president.
Or try this one on for size: Neither the House nor the Senate fulfills its constitutional duty to select the president and the vice president by Jan. 20, so House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, becomes acting president until the whole mess is sorted out.