Pundits transfixed by fluctuating poll numbers are starting to wonder: What if nobody wins?In what’s looking to be an extremely tight election, a few votes in a few precincts may make the difference between a second Obama term or a Romney presidency. If neither side wins decisively, we could see a slew of recounts and court battles over voter registration that could make the Florida situation in 2000 look like small potatoes. In an excellent new piece at The American Interest, Jeremy D. Mayer looks at what might happen if the winner has only a razor-thin margin of victory:
Ultimately, the nation will survive a two or three or four month election court battle. But the costs would be extremely high. Imagine a President Romney or President Obama who is inaugurated, perhaps even after January 20, without any legitimacy for 45 percent or more of the country. How would markets react to another protracted period of struggle over election outcomes? The debt ceiling kerfuffle of 2011 resulted in a tiny drop in our national credit rating; a prolonged legal battle over the White House itself, with no obvious end in sight, would do much more harm. It could even threaten the world’s faith in the dollar.A lot has to happen immediately after the election involving compromise between the lame duck Congress and Obama. Could that happen while Republicans and Democrats fight in the county courthouses of Ohio and Florida and Virginia for every dimpled chad and questionable voter registration? . . .Neither a President Romney nor a President Obama would be as bad for America as a President Nobody for months on end.
Via Meadia has not endorsed a candidate in this election, but this is one outcome that both sides should want to avoid at all costs. What America needs is leadership, and it isn’t going to get it through a long, acrimonious struggle for the White House.Read the whole thing. Interested readers should also read Mayer’s piece in the new American Interest eBook, Plutocracy and Democracy, on sale now.