Prepare to say Hello to President Willard Romney (?!)
This is a scenario under which we have a three-candidate race for the White House come November. Some caveats: First, this is NOT my original thought going here. It was posted on Huffington Post a few hours ago, and if I find the link, I’ll repost it. The reason I’m posting it on my site is that the original article has disappeared and Huffington doesn’t have an easy-to-use search capability.
Anyway, here is where the election is right now on the GOP side. The Donald has lots of momentum and no one in any position to challenge him for the nomination. This is making the ‘establishment’ GOP extremely concerned. One of the ‘stop Trump’ strategies being played up to now is to back spoilers in the primaries (whether Kasich, Cruz, or Rubio)–others running for the nomination who may be able to take just enough delegates away from Trump to keep him from winning outright. In a brokered convention, the establishment Repubs would control enough votes to bounce Trump out of the running. This path is no longer open to them–Rubio has dropped out, and Cruz and Kasich won’t be able to get enough delegates to force a negotiation for the candidacy in Cleveland. And the GOP leadership understands it’s playing with fire here. Trump could mount a truncated third-party run (he could already be looking at states’ deadlines for third party runs). And as ABC News reported yesterday, Two-thirds of all Republican voters who didn’t vote for Trump Tuesday said they would vote for a third-party nominee instead of the real estate mogul if that is an option… For his part, Trump is unhappy about the talk of a new competitor in the race, and made it clear that it would likely siphon votes from his campaign and lead to Clinton’s winning.
The question: How does the GOP get the White House and NOT have it go to Trump?
It’s simple, really. The Establishment GOP takes the nomination away from Trump (supporters be damned) and gives it to a standard-bearer– Mitt Romney seems to be their guy, but it could be anybody. Trump mounts a write in/third party run. Both candidate Donald and Willard rain most of their campaign attacks against the Democrat (probably Hillary). Come election day, none of the three get the required 270 electoral votes. It doesn’t matter if Willard gets the least of the three candidates, because the Constitution is quite clear that the ONLY thing that counts in the presidential election is the Electoral College totals. Once it’s clear that no one can get to 270, the election is decided by… wait for it…
The House of Representatives. The CURRENT house of Representatives with 233 Republicans and 205 Democrats. And it’s clear that this vote is a clean slate–Congresscreatures don’t have to pay attention to who got the most votes. And the sitting GOP congresscreatures don’t have any great love for Trump, who has excoriated Congress as well as the rest of the DC inside-the-beltway establishment. In short, if the GOP pursues this strategy and it works, they will run all three branches of government come next Inauguration Day.
By the way, the GOP tossing The Donald has some ugly possibilities. Yesterday morning, it was reported that Trump was threatening that his followers could get violent if he was denied the GOP nomination: Trump said Wednesday that a contested GOP convention could be a disaster if he goes to Cleveland a few delegates shy of 1,237 — and doesn’t leave as the party’s nominee.
“I think you’d have riots,” Trump said on CNN.
Noting that he’s “representing many millions of people,” he told Chris Cuomo: “If you disenfranchise those people, and you say, ‘I’m sorry, you’re 100 votes short’…I think you’d have problems like you’ve never seen before. I think bad things would happen.”
In that case (should the GOP take this threat as something more than bluster) the GOP may decide to let trump have the ‘party’ nomination and give Willard money and support for his third-party run.
The ONLY strategy for the Democrats to play under this scenario is looking at Sanders and Clinton, their last two candidates, and figuring out which of them is likely to take more Electoral college votes and whether that gets them to 270. California and New York will be in the D column. The old south won’t be–it’s hard to see Trump not winning those states handily. Can the Dems still keep Florida and Ohio in such a scenario? But if this is how the DNC leadership thinks that things will shake out, it makes no sense for Bernie Sanders to leave the race early. Instead, it should be understood once things go to Philadelphia that all the conventional rules and assumptions that supported a Hillary Clinton candidacy might not mean much in a contest where she has two opponents hell-bent to take her out of the race.