Fact-Checking That Insane 'House Of Cards' Election: Could It Really Happen?


The craziest thing that happens in the new season of House of Cards isn't the lies or murder — that's all expected at this point — it's an insanely prolonged and confusing series of election loopholes.

Season 5 finds Frank Underwood facing off against Republican nominee Will Conway for the presidency. Going into the season, all signs point to the young, handsome, charming war veteran Conway winning in a landslide, especially since a high-powered journalist is releasing details about Frank's past crimes at the same time.

But leave it to the Underwoods to weasel their way past anyone who opposes them.


Frank, Claire, and their inner circle capitalize on a series of bizarre, unprecedented political loopholes to prolong the election and make it more confusing and chaotic than ever before. But the question is... could the Underwoods' political maneuvers actually work in real life?

Before we get into it, let's recap what Frank and Claire do to this election.

Spoiler Alert: The rest of this post will go into detail about events that take place in the first 6 episodes of Season 5 of House of Cards.


When Frank Underwood and his team realize he won't receive the electoral votes he needs to win the election, Frank decides to take Will Conway down with him by denying him the electoral votes he needs.

Frank cashes in on a terrorist threat at a voting station to urge congressmen to shut down voting centers in their states. Without the votes from those key states, Conway also does not reach the majority of electoral votes to win the election.

And yes — it actually is possible for both presidential candidates to lose the election.

According to the U.S. government's website, if neither candidate receives the majority of electoral votes, the decision goes to the House of Representatives and the Senate. And that's exactly what happens on House of Cards.

If this happens, the House is responsible for deciding the president, and the Senate decides the vice president.

In the show, this presents a possible tricky situation where the president from one ticket may be serving with the vice president of the other ticket. That also seems to be an issue that could present itself in real life, since the House and Senate are legally meant to pick the two leaders independently of one another.

The House takes a long time to decide between Frank and Will, but Claire Underwood — who goes from First Lady to VP candidate — manages to get the Senate to elect her Vice President. And since the country hasn't had a president for so long, they decide to have the newly elected VP step in for the time being, making Claire acting President.


Wow, that's a lot of stuff — sorry about all that!

OK, so to break it down, most of the stuff going on here is unprecedented, so there's really no official guidelines on how to handle it. The novelty of the whole situation is also addressed in the show, as Frank tells the viewers the Founding Fathers never prepared for how he would manipulate the government.

As we all learned in grade school government class, the vice president does indeed step in when the president is incapacitated in some way, so there is a legal case to be made for the validity of Claire becoming president after months of nobody in the Oval Office.

And as I've said above, the whole House and Senate deciding the election thing is totally real. So in the end -- as crazy as it may seem -- Frank and Claire's plan to prolong the election and remain in power actually could feasibly work in real life as far as I can find.