The latest bach of episodes picks up just days before the election, with Frank and Claire desperately trying to cling on to power.
Republican Conway and his vice presidential nominee General Brockhart threaten to usurp the husband-and-wife running mates, who launch a bid to suppress voter turnout using fear.
Showrunners Melissa James Gibson explained: “We left the season with the Underwoods promising to foment chaos and fear. And that’s where we pick up season five.
“Frank [Pugliese, co-showrunner] and I, talking before this season, for us, there’d be the literal way to go. Which is to have them enter an actual war.
Speaking to Vulture, she added: “But the other possibility was to think about how this could play out in the American psyche.
“It seemed promising to have the battlefield be in the imagination of the American people. And what can the Underwoods do to wage war there? That was the real starting point for us.”
The first half of the season is dominated by the election, which is disrupted by terror threats, hacking and congressional investigations and has many similarities to the Trump-Clinton election of last year.
The writers have said that any parallels with last November’s election are pure coincidence, explaining that the series was written “almost six months before”.
House of Cards: Frank and Claire Underwood are running for president and vice president
Who wins the election? Warning – spoilers for episode four and beyond.
Voting day takes place during episode four, with it becoming apparent early on that Conway is ahead in important swing states.
Desperate, Frank has hacker Aidan Mcallan engineer back-to-back terror threats that force two states to close voting, creating a dead heat.
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Episode five picks up nine weeks after voting day.
With Ohio and Tennessee failing to certify their results, neither Frank nor Conway have won enough electoral college votes to become president.
House of Cards: Will Conway is the Republican candidate running against Frank Underwood
A little-known clause of the 12th Amendment is invoked which gives the House of Representatives the power the elect the president and the Senate the chance to pick the vice president.
While this plot seems outlandish, it is based on real-life legislation which has been used just once, in 1824.
The votes take place simultaneously to avoid either influencing the other.
Claire is elected vice president, but neither Frank nor Conway win a majority in the House.
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House of Cards: Here are Frank and Claire's most shocking moments.
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House of Cards: Claire Underwood is sworn in as acting president
In the interim, Claire is sworn in as acting leader while a second House vote is organised.
Sensing that Frank is too unpopular among Congress to win, Claire decides to return the vote to Ohio and Tennessee.
In a final attempt to discredit their opponents, the Underwoods acquire and release audio recordings of Conway and Brockhart making unsavoury comments.
Ohio votes for Frank, giving him the electoral college votes that he needs and returning him to the White House.
The remainder of the season sees Frank attempt to consolidate his power even further, positioning himself as a White House puppetmaster.
House of Cards season five is available on Netflix now.