It could happen again.
There is a remote possibility that this year’s presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump could end in a virtual tie in a state requiring a recount, reminiscent of the 2000 presidential election.
FiveThirtyEight, the web news and analysis site led by statistician Nate Silver, says there’s an 8.3 percent chance that the vote in at least one decisive state will fall within the usual range for a recount.
Most polls show Clinton ahead of Trump, with a slight lead of an average of 2.9 percent in national public opinion surveys and in winning the required 270 electoral votes.
Prognosticators already are calling the election for Clinton. Here is Clinton’s projected electoral vote by pundit:
- The Cook Report, 278;
- Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, 322;
- Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report, 323.
Still, in 10 of the battleground states, Clinton or Trump have an average lead in the polls that falls within the usual 3.5-percentage-point margin of error.
That means either one of them could win big or could win with the slimmest of margins. And in the closest of vote totals, the winner could be determined by the vagaries of local election laws.
Half of those 10 states have an automatic recount process if neither candidate wins by a margin above a specified threshold, according to the nonprofit group Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, which compiled recount information for every state in the country.
Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Pennsylvania put the tipping point for an automatic recount at 0.5 percent of the total vote, and Ohio (18 electoral votes) puts it at 0.25 percent.
The other five states — Iowa (6), Maine CD2 (1), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4) and North Carolina (15) — don’t have an automatic recount process, but all allow candidates to petition for recounts.
Other battleground states such as Arizona (11) and Michigan (16) — where the lead falls outside the margin of error — also have automatic recounts. Arizona’s threshold is less than 0.1 percent of the votes for both candidates. Michigan’s is less than 2,000 votes statewide.
Yes, the chance of a recount on Tuesday is remote.
But no one predicted that the 2000 presidential election would come down to a battle in Florida over vote counts, hanging chads and butterfly ballots, a dispute that ended with an unusual and controversial Supreme Court decision.