Who Would Congress Choose For President Under The 12th Amendment? Hillary Clinton May Be The Most Unlikely Choice
In the rare but possible case that we find ourselves in a situation where neither candidate receives 270 votes from the Electoral College, the decision for president would then be handed over to the House of Representatives. This naturally brings up the question of who would Congress choose for president? Obviously, that's not something we can flawlessly predict.
However, we can take a few hints from the 12th Amendment of the Constitution itself. The 12th Amendment outlines a process for the rare elections when the House of Representatives picks the U.S. president because no candidate received a majority of the Electoral College votes.
In the case that a notable handful of the electors pledged to Donald Trump, go rogue/vote their conscience/become "faithless electors," and we find ourselves in a position with no clear winner, the 12th Amendment states that the presidential decision is then handed over to the House of Representatives. As per the Constitution:
The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.
However, as stated in the 12th Amendment, the members of the House don't get to just pick a candidate out of thin air. The representatives voting are only allowed to vote for the three top presidential picks from the Electoral College. In this election, that would mean that the options would be Trump, Hillary Clinton, and... that's it, folks.
Well, here's a potential exception. If the "Hamilton Electors," who are encouraging electors to vote for an alternative Republican — reported by Politico to be Ohio Gov. John Kasich — that could lead to a third option. But, that is wildly, wildly unlikely.
For Democrats hoping for an Electoral College scenario where no candidate wins the majority, it's important to remember that essentially the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan would be picking the president alongside the GOP House majority. It is far from likely that they'd swing to Hillary Clinton and bring a Democrat into the White House.