The Twelfth Amendment to the US Constitution describes what happens in the event that no candidate has the number of electoral college votes needed to become president (currently 270 out of 538):

...if no person have such majority [of Electoral votes], 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.


if no person have a majority [of Electoral votes], then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President...

I could imagine a situation in which the House of Representatives and Senate are controlled by different parties (e.g. House controlled by Republicans, Senate by Democrats) and they would vote for the candidate that aligns with their own parties. Would this mean that it is possible to have a President and Vice President from different parties, and different tickets, being elected?* Or does something prevent this possibility?

* To give an example, had the 2008 election gone differently, could we have had a President Obama and Vice President Palin?

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    For what it's worth, given the oddball voting rules if the election is put in the hands of congress, it doesn't even require that the house and senate be "controlled" by different parties. Consider what the house might look like in 2019 if the Democrats take both chambers. On the house side, the Democrats would have large majorities in the large coastal states, while the Republican's power would be in much smaller (and more numerous) interior state (and Texas). If it were a presidential year, the house would vote republican, while the senate would vote democrat.
    – Flydog57
    Jun 12, 2018 at 14:24

1 Answer 1



For example, if the election results were

Hillary Clinton/Tim Kaine 267
Donald Trump/Mike Pence   266
Gary Johnson/Bill Weld      5

Democrats and Never Trump Republicans could form a coalition to elect Johnson President, as he is in the top three. But Bill Weld would not be in the top two of Vice-Presidential candidates. So the President and Vice-President would have to be different parties.

Vote by states

I could imagine a situation in which the House of Representatives and Senate are controlled by different parties

This is pretty common actually, but that's not what's important.

But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote;

The House votes for President by state, so it's having control of a majority of the state delegations that matters. This may be different from control of the House. Note that Republicans tend to win single district states while Democrats do well in large states like California and New York.

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