Monday October 22, 2012 | 12:31 PM

WASHINGTON -- With the presidential race still anybody's guess, many media organizations and pundits are starting to discuss an outcome guaranteed to be even uglier than the 2000 recount and court drama in Bush vs. Gore: a tied Electoral College count.

The candidates need 270 electors to win the White House. While a 269-269 split seems extemely unlikely, there are dozens of scenarios that could yield a tie that would result in the House of Representatives deciding the election, as specified in the Constitution.

The website 270towin.com, for instance, recently gave 32 different scenarios (using mixes and matches of electors from just 11 swing states) where both President Obama and Mitt Romney end up with 269.

Most of these scenarios presume that Maine will give Obama all four of its electors. But Maine and Nebraska can split their electoral votes, unlike the 48 other winner-take-all states. As the Washington Post recently noted, things get even more confusing when you factor in the potential that Maine's 2nd Congressional District votes for Romney or one of Nebraska's districts goes to the president.

"If Obama won Omaha along with Ohio and Virginia, for example, we would have a tie. And if Obama won New Hampshire, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin but lost an electoral vote in Maine, we would also have a tie. Adding these states as variables — however unlikely — creates a ton more scenarios," the Post's Aaron Blake reported.

Fox News congressional correspondent Chad Pergram, meanwhile, recently offered this tie scenario involving Maine:

"So algorithm four has the president winning Nevada, Colorado and Ohio and the Congressional district represented by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME). Meantime, Romney has Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire and [Mike] Michaud's Congressional district," Pergram wrote.

Likewise, the 2nd District could -- unlikely as it is -- end up giving one of the candidates that final elector to reach 270.

The closer the Electoral College fight, the more important every electoral vote becomes. Neither campaign is diverting major resources to Maine's sprawling 2nd District yet, but there are plenty of scenarios where it could see some last-second attention.

You can create your own Electoral College configuration (including splitting Maine's and Nebraska's votes) at www.270towin.com.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or kmiller@mainetoday.com

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