Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination due to the winner-take-all primaries late in the campaign.
Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination with the majority of primary and caucus delegates.
In the last 2 weeks before the election, the Republican establishment, realizing that a historic Trump loss could destroy the Republican party, decides to back him completely.
After a fierce campaign, marred by scandals on both sides, the election is disrupted by voter blocking in several states, allegations of bribery, and widespread hacking and manipulation of electronic voting machines. Hillary Clinton wins a very narrow popular vote. However, for the second time in 16 years, the Electoral College is won by the loser of the popular vote, with Florida again the scene of massive irregularities, and Pennsylvania results under contest for weeks due to problems with electronic voting machines. The Florida and Pennsylvania results are challenged by the Democrats and taken to the Supreme Court. However, the Republicans in the Senate, remembering the role of the Supreme Court in the 2000 election, and with just such a possibility in mind, had refused to approve President Obama’s nominee, so the Court has only 8 Justices, 4 of which were nominated by each Party. The Court votes along party lines and therefore ties 4 to 4, with the result that the lower court decisions in favor of the Republican Party stand. It therefore appears that Donald Trump will be the President.
However, at the instigation of the national Republican Party establishment, three states have secretly agreed to free up their Electors to vote contrary to the actual state election results. When the Electoral College convenes, 4 Electors from states that were won by Trump choose to vote for others – one for Ben Carson, 2 for Ted Cruz, and one for Marco Rubio. The result is a tie in electoral votes between Clinton and Trump. When the Electoral College results are opened in Congress in December, no candidate has a majority of 270 electoral votes, and the election is passed to the Congress.
In Congress, which was won by the Republicans by a margin of one Senator and three Congressmen, a vote along party lines sees Mitch McConnell elected as President and Paul Ryan as Vice President.
The Democratic party (with many allies, including 26 state governments) appeals to the Supreme Court to invalidate the Congressional vote, since the Congress was supposed to choose the President and Vice President from among the original candidates. However, again the 8 member Supreme Court splits along party lines, and the resulting tie means that the Congressional vote stands.
Massive demonstrations and disruption throughout the country prompt President McConnell to declare martial law nationwide and to suspend civil liberties. When McConnell is assassinated at the State of the Union speech (allegedly by a Democratic Congressman), Paul Ryan ascends to the Presidency and outlaws the Democratic Party as a terrorist organization, placing 20 Democratic Senators, 145 Congressmen, and 15 governors into protective detention.
California declares its independence and secedes from the Union, quickly followed by Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington state, forming the new Pacific States of America. In the Northeast, New York (which had officially voted for Trump), Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine also secede, and ask to join Canada as provinces.
Triggered by the massive disruption of the economy, and weakened by inherent inequities and long-standing structural and functional problems, the US stock markets crash. They are closed for several weeks, opening only under close government control, and are essentially non-functional for years. The US economy enters a second Great Depression, and the country’s influence in the world is reduced. President Ryan establishes a permanent state of Federal martial law, with a controlled economy and semi-dictatorial powers supported by a subservient Congress. This government system lasts for the next 127 years.
Russia and China sign a wide-ranging nonaggression pact which defines their respective spheres of influence. Russia will have Europe, as far as Greenland, the Atlantic Ocean, and South America. China will have the entire Pacific region and all of southern Asia, as well as southern Africa. They leave the Middle East and northern Africa for the Muslim countries to fight over, except where Pakistan and China dispute the partition of India. In 2018, China’s navy surrounds and peacefully subdues Hawaii, and expels all non-Asian residents. Russia invades Alaska across the Bering Strait, and occupies much of the state.
In 2021, China lands 3 men and a woman on the Moon, who claim it for China, and over the next 20 years, they build a functioning Chinese military colony on the near side of the Moon.
This is really a story about the constitutional possibilities in a contested election. The idea started when people were talking about ways to “stop Trump”, and I realized that the last (legal) chance we would have, if he won the election, would be the Electoral College. Electors are not bound, in many cases, to cast their vote for the person who won their state, and so this scenario could really happen. However, that would throw the selection of the President (and Vice President) into the Congress. From there, the story developed on its own, incorporating some current issues such as the potential deadlock in the 8-member Supreme Court. I expect that most American citizens are not aware of these ways that the will of the people could be subverted by power plays at the top. The only way to prevent this happening is to amend the Constitution to remove the Electoral College entirely, and to institute popular election of the President and Vice President.