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Monday, June 13, 2016

Veep, S5E8

So the pieces are beginning to come together as we move into the final two episodes, which apparently will involve the actual House election (where find out if there is, indeed, an Electoral College tie) and the inauguration of someone.

Jonah wins the New Hampshire special election, which is revealed to be an election to replace a representative-elect, stating that Jonah will be sworn with the rest of the House at the beginning of January. He wins in typical Jonah fashion--after he shoots himself in the foot, his opponent (the widow of the former representative and Jonah's former grade-school teacher) is quoted telling Jonah he needs to be more careful because guns can be dangerous; that last part is seized by the NRA, which undertakes a massive campaign to defeat her. So Jonah wins and promises to cast the vote that delivers Meyer the presidency.

While I like the story, let me lay out why the math does not work for the plot device of Jonah casting the deciding vote as a representative from New Hampshire. Meyer needs 26 state delegations to win. Let's say she has 25 states and the idea is that NH will be 26, with Jonah voting for her. NH has two representatives, so the  delegation voting in January will consist of Ryan and Rep. X. If Rep. X supports O'Brien, Jonah's vote creates a divided delegation and does not provide the 26th state. It keeps NH away from O'Brien, but taking a state away from O'Brien does not give it to Meyer, leaving her with 25, not the required majority. If Rep. X supports Meyer, then she alone could have given the state to Meyer; there was no need to rush the special election or to get a supporter into office by January, as Meyer and her team wanted. The only possibility is that Rep. X plans to abstain, so Jonah's vote moves NH from a non-commitment to Meyer's 26th state. But that seems an odd plot move, one the writers have not set up or even telegraphed over the season, although maybe they will next week.

[Update: Upon further consideration, even that last one does not work. If Rep. X, as the lone member of the NH delegation had abstained, then the vote from NH would not have been a non-commitment, it would have been an abstention; that would drop the denominator to 49, meaning Meyer's 25 states constitute a majority. So Meyer would have a majority regardless of whether Jonah is in the House.]

By the way, the constitutional problem with the plot is not making Jonah the deciding vote (which is a cute move, given everything we know about Jonah and how the Meyer people feel about him), but putting Jonah in New Hampshire, a state with an even-numbered delegation, as the deciding vote. If you like New England, put him in Massachusetts (9 representatives), Connecticut (5), or even Vermont (a single at-large rep [update: Although, again, see above]) and the story makes constitutional sense.

I suppose another possibility is that Jonah renegs on voting for Meyer, denying her the majority and setting up a House stalemate and clearing the way for Tom James. But, again, James still only acts as president, so that hole remains.

Meyer at one point is nonchalant about losing benefits to Ohio and North Carolina from the agreement with China, in part because Jonah appeared poised to win New Hampshire. But that, too, is inconsistent with the requirement of a House majority--Meyer needs all the states she can get. Unless she is trading NH for OH and NC, which really makes no sense--why give up two states that take you past the bare majority?

I am looking forward to seeing how the writers play this out.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on June 13, 2016 at 12:52 AM in Culture, Howard Wasserman | Permalink

Comments

President Meyer fought for votes in other delegations, so I simply don't know how the math spells out here. I agree it's hard to see how NH by its lonesome is enough but when the news of the person's death was first reported, it didn't seem like a "this will do it!" moment. It was cited as helping.

It wasn't referenced, but assume the Electoral College officially voted sometime around the time of the events here. The results forthcoming. As to Tom James or someone else as temporary President: (1) that could be significant (2) to return to the faithless elector scenario, if Tom James had a vote, him being President for a few weeks can be taken as evidence he's a good choice & help him become the compromise choice in the House.

Anyway, two more episodes with the last one entitled Inauguration Day. But, there is a sixth season too. Will see how things go down.

Posted by: Joe | Jun 13, 2016 10:02:08 AM

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