The United States has a funny and archaic way of electing its president, while most eyes are on nationwide polls in the lead-up to the election, people should really be paying closer attention to the so-called battleground states. That's because it is not actually the U.S. public that elects the president but rather a body known as the electoral college.
And yes, there really is a scenario where neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump becomes president and instead one vice presidential candidate — in this case, Mike Pence or Tim Kaine — is chosen to occupy the White House.
A candidate needs to secure 270 votes from the electoral college to win the election, which are distributed somewhat proportionally by a state's population. Invariably this produces a situation where a vote in a lesser populated state ends up being more valuable than one in a more populous state but defenders of the system say this helps ensure all states get to have their say.
Despite most polls putting Clinton well ahead of her rival, the election isn't in the bag for her yet, as polls in key states indicate she still doesn't have enough support in battleground states to cross that 270 vote threshold.
In other words, this election is still too close to call and it is entirely possible that there won't be a clear winner on the night of November 8.
This election does have two other nationwide tickets in the race — if either Jill Stein or Gary Johnson have a strong enough showing, they could conceivably win a state and prevent any candidate from winning the 270 votes needed. While unlikely, the election could even produce a 269 to 269 tie result.
Election Special: USA Decides
According to the U.S. Constitution, if there is a tie in the electoral college, the decision then falls to the House of Representatives. Each state delegation gets one vote as a bloc and must choose from the three candidates who get the most electoral college votes. A candidate must win a majority of states to win the post of president.
Meanwhile, in a separate vote, the vice president is chosen by the Senate with each senator casting a single vote for one of two candidates who received the most electoral college votes.
However, if the house also deadlocks and produces a 25-25 state split, then the vice president-elect would become president. And that's how the United States could end up with Mike Pence as president.