The Republicans are getting more frantic about the prospect of Trump winning their nomination. Various semi-secret "meetings" are being held to consider increasingly desperate-sounding options – a Cruz-Kasich "unity ticket", convention shenanigans, rule changes, and so on – and that hardly can be interpreted as a positive omen. When a group of people priding itself on refusing to change finally gets around to admitting that there is a problem, it's likely already too late. But what if they do succeed in coming up with a means of denying Trump the nomination? Aside from those riots he has promised, the assumption is that Trump would continue as an Independent candidate. If he's as rich as he claims to be, certainly he could afford to do so (especially given that he doesn't have to pay for media exposure).

The problem with the Trump-as-Independent (or some GOP savior running as Independent after Trump secures the nomination) is the fundamental issue of ballot access. Every state and territory has its own rules and deadlines for who can appear on the November election ballot. The Republican Convention is scheduled for July 18-21, by which point 11 states' deadlines will have passed.


Go ahead and try to conceive of a scenario in which a Republican or Independent Trump wins the election without being on the ballot in Texas, Florida, and North Carolina. I'll wait.

That would leave two remaining options. The first is to run what would be at least partially a write-in campaign. Texas, with its early May deadline, at the very least would end up requiring write-ins. The second would be to use an existing third/minor party that has already secured ballot access. Even this Hail Mary strategy is problematic, though. The Libertarian Party leads current U.S. third parties with ballot access in 34 states. That's less than 2/3 of the states. The Green Party isn't going to help (and is in only about 20 states). The wingnut Constitution Party would be a logical home, but they're barely in a dozen states (they claim 15, although other sources list fewer).

The upshot is that Trump as an Independent, assuming that his quest for the GOP nomination is thwarted (if at all) at the convention in mid-July, would be running solely as a spoiler. He wouldn't even be on every state's ballot, and the idea that he's going to win an Electoral College majority with a mishmash of write-in and Independent votes borders on silly. In any scenario in which Trump and another Republican are both running it's inevitable that they will split the right-wing vote and lead to a Democratic blowout in the Electoral College. If you have wondered what the Republican Party's strength would be without the Tea Party, this will provide the answer.

I can't wait.

28 thoughts on “GO YOUR OWN WAY”

  • If the establishment rigs the game in favor of anyone but Cruz, the right wing will elevate them as enemy number one and the animating force of voting against the "libtards" or Clintons will not be enough to get wingers to the polls. This is the one outside scenario that might cost the Republicans Congress.

  • Think this article is a bit of a red herring. Never heard anyone seriously considering Trump winning on a third party, independent or write-in ticket (except for maybe old speculation about Bernie winning and then Bloomberg running as an independent in response) just that doing so would torpedo any Republican chances in November.

    And a Trump outside the tent pissing in would surely sink anyone else the Republicans nominate and for that I really don't think ballot access matters, he could destroy the Republican nominee without garnering a single vote just by telling his supporters to stay home.

  • Leading Edge Boomer says:

    Excerpt from http://drsunshine.org/20160302-GOPAngries.htm

    What’s a Democrat to do?

    In all likelihood Secretary Clinton will clinch the nomination. On the upside, she has the most governmental experience of any candidate in either party. On the downside, experience is, mysteriously, less esteemed in 2016 than ever before. She carries some baggage from the past, partly self-inflicted (from a long time in public life) and partly invented by the GOP. The idealistic campaign of Senator Sanders has enriched discussions, and has also brought many young people into the political milieu.

    It is important for Democrats to unite around their candidate or risk turning what is very likely to be a victorious campaign into a losing one.

    What’s a Republican to do?

    Republicans have a different set of problems. Mr. Drumpf, the presumed nominee, has no public experience at all, and it shows in his unrealistic, contradictory, and often insulting or dangerous pronouncements. He has the highest disapproval percentage among all candidates in either party. His candidacy will repel many Independent voters, most women, and almost all members of minority groups. Growing numbers of elected Republicans have stated publicly that they will not vote for him. Uniting around a candidate is unlikely, so a GOP presidency in 2017 seems out of reach at this point.

    Republicans need to assess what they want from the 2016 elections. Retaining Senate control is possible, but is far from a sure thing, and other down-slate contests may be affected badly for them as well. The Senate must finally, after 2014 promises, operate on “regular order” (e.g., evaluate the president’s supreme court nominee) or be slammed by Democrats in the general elections. At the same time, keeping the Angries on board is absolutely required–a third-party candidacy, by either Mr. Drumpf or a “centrist” Republican, would be disastrous. Especially after recent events, they have a lot of work to do, and a steep hill to climb.

    What’s an Independent to do?

    Study the candidates at all levels carefully, and decide which are best for the future of the country. More than ever, Independents have the presidential election outcome, and a lot more, in their hands in 2016.

  • I'll believe they can get their act together enough to thwart Trump from claiming the GOP nomination when they actually achieve such a thing and not before.

    But that said, Trump has a reputation for being a petty, vindictive creature, so it wouldn't surprise me if he'd be down for being a spoiler – if he can't have the nod, why should one of his GOP rivals benefit from something he'd likely regard as rightfully his?

  • I live in Utah, the most fly over of states. You know things are heating up when you actually see candidates advertise here, not to mention physically showing up and not just sending a kid. It was always such a sure dunk that the Republicans would clean up here, but Trump is proving to be unpopular since he's been fighting with the favored adopted son Mitt (not to mention the casino owning). That being said if it was any Democrat beside Hillary they'd could possibly win our measly half doz electoral votes here, but traditionalist mormons are repulsed by any strong career woman who didn't pop-out eight kids. (because mormon theology is literally patriarchy)

    And speaking of the Constitution Party, I recently got a state-sent mailer about the different caucasus (caucii?), and the third parties were Libertarian, Constitution, and Independent American — which I looked up and apparently they broke off from ConParty, which should tell you how big they are. Looking at their website they literally have a link to the NRA in their header, page supporting Cliven Bundy, and non-ironic quote from George Wallace (not the comedian).

  • So how much of a factor would actual voter turnout be in this election? We have compulsory voting, with preferential distribution for the government elections, so minority parties (and voters) get a bigger say in government formation.

  • I'm still feeling pretty sanguine about Hillary, and more generally my Dems taking back the Senate (not a sure thing by any means, but do-able).

    Do RNC and the Douthat / Brooks types really think Trumpolini will just fold up his tent and go home if a brokered convention takes it away from him? And do they really, really think some combination of fresh-faced John Kasich, Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan on a ticket gets them anywhere?

    Oh, and that Cruz's ego isn't the size of Siberia, and he'll also go ape-shit if he he doesn't at least get to play king-maker as the second highest vote-getter so far?

    Romney / Ryan were trounced by the supposedly hated black guy in 2012. Will a white woman named "Clinton" and a likely telegenic Latino male really do worse among white, black, Hispanic, and female voters than four years ago? Worse enough to turn Florida or Ohio red?

    Fact is, warts and all, HRC is getting minority voters out for her and will continue to do so. And Trump will not go gentle into that good night. He'll throw a shit-fit and it'll be a thing of beauty. Trump supporters are, in scientific jargon, fucking nut-balls and they'll be out for blood (literally) in Cleveland. (And Cruz supporters won't be much better if they feel they've been spurned.)

    It'll be hugely embarrassing for anybody who still thinks the US should act like a serious world leader but the GOP let that fly out the window long ago.

    The David Brooks suicide watch should be interesting though.

  • The calculation for the Republican leadership is this:

    If Trump is the nominee, he is so totally repulsive he may do long-term damage to the viability of the GOP. More immediately, they may lose the Senate and even the House.

    If Trump is not the nominee, he will run as a write-in candidate, tell his supporters not to vote Republican in down-ballot races, and the Republicans may lose the Senate and even the House.

    Whichever way they jump, it's not going to be fun for them. Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch of people.

    A cynical long-shot possibility is to allow Trump the nomination, then have someone like Romney run for President as an "independent Republican." The GOP leaders tell Trump they are shocked, shocked that Romney has jumped ship, while secretly cheering him on. If Romney takes enough states to deny any candidate a majority in the Electoral College, and the GOP holds the House, he might even win the presidency. It's a bad and desperate move, but that's the only kind they have left.

    Incidentally, Trump will struggle as a write-in candidate because many of his supporters have not mastered writing.

  • HoosierPoli says:

    Trump running as a spoiler simply to ruin the Republicans and punish them for humiliating him is all but assured, is it not?

  • @bad Jim: Count electoral college votes, not states. How many ECV would the Libertarians have if their candidate swept all of the states in which they have ballot access?

  • canuckistani says:

    A write-in campaign for Trump also assumes a lot of his supporters can read and write, and I'm not sure I want to make that leap just yet.

  • 'Trump supporters are, in scientific jargon, fucking nut-balls and they'll be out for blood (literally) in Cleveland. '

    'A write-in campaign for Trump also assumes a lot of his supporters can read and write, and I'm not sure I want to make that leap just yet.'

    Wet casements and canuckistani: you both make slurs well.

    Perhaps you can compete with some of those you find despicable….you know the ones who are not smart enough to agree with you.

  • The second would be to use an existing third/minor party that has already secured ballot access. Even this Hail Mary strategy is problematic, though.

    There is still a little time for third parties to get on the ballot. If, say, the Constitution Party has a sudden surge in organisational ability and gets onto the ballot in most or all states, it may be a sign that one of the Republican players is hedging his bets.

  • For me, I'm just enjoying the freak show too much to spend much time trying to figure out how it ends. Doesn't matter though. Either way we're fucked.

  • The latest news out of the conservative hivemind in DC is that the plan is to run a third-party conservative who can split the electoral votes three ways and guarantee that none of the candidates gets 270, send the whole thing to the House and have Paul Ryan decide the next president.

    This pretty much shows that the conservative hivemind is perhaps more out of touch than anyone ever thought. Also that their ability to do basic political calculus is astoundingly poor.

  • Mo said: Trump/Cruz, then Trump is assassinated?

    If they were going that path they will not choose Cruz. They hate him as much as Trump.

  • Eric –

    I was imagining that it would be the Cruz supporters who'd remove Trump from the picture. Buwahahahahahaaaaaaaa?

  • Dloburns: Fellow Utahn here. Did you see the latest Deseret News poll? Normally I'd Be skeptical of the results, but the D-News isn't exactly beloved by Internet millennials. According to that one, Bernie handily beats Trump and Clinton has a small lead over Trump. Any other Republican clearly beats either Democrat. Utahns hate Hillary, but at least she's never insulted Mitt and the other Mormons in Trump-like fashion. When your frontrunner is such a bad candidate that Utah is a competitive presidential race, the GOP is officially fucked.

  • Net Denizen says:

    Actually, with Trump's money and media profile, he probably *could* get on the ballot in Texas AND Florida even if the deadline passed for him to do so. McCain did not qualify for the Texas ballot in 2008, yet he managed to secure himself a ballot line due to his major party status, and the fact it would be extremely embarrassing to republicans to not have their nominee in one of the most republican states with the most Electoral votes. I could see Trump buying his way onto the ballot, especially if it is not Cruz who gets the nomination.

  • A write-in campaign for Trump also assumes a lot of his supporters can read and write, and I'm not sure I want to make that leap just yet.

    "Senator Lisa Murkowski won a historic victory on Wednesday in her long-shot run for re-election as a write-in candidate.

    By Wednesday afternoon, 15 days after the midterm elections, it was clear from a count of write-in ballots. . ."

    If they can scribble Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, they firmly grasp a crayon and scrawl Don Trump. Plus we get the added bonus of looking like a banana republic (Bush v Gore) again as days drag into weeks as we count, recount and look for hanging chads.

  • canuckistani says:

    @Gil More – well, you got me there. But Murkowski was running as the incumbent in that race (though that's not always a bonus), and had a firm foothold in Alaska politics before that. Still, there is that precedent for a write-in candidate I suppose.

    @doug – hi, welcome to the internet. People say mean things here about about other people sometimes, especially when those people rally to support a blowhard who wants to do a lot of stupid, terrible things, and talks about the size of his dick during a presidential debate.

  • I'm with Skipper. I can't really puzzle out how this ends for the GOP, but I know it ends badly for me. Shit, this morning Trump was gleefully supporting torture and Cruz was calling for police to shut down and patrol Muslim neighborhoods in the U.S. That's right. Cruz was proposing violating the constitutional rights of certain U.S. citizens based on their chosen faith. WHAT THE FUCK????!!!!!!

  • @canuckistani: Lisa Murkowski's father Frank had spent 25 years as Senator and later Governor of Alaska. So the Murkowski name was very well known there. And all joking aside, it's well established that Trump's support skews toward the less educated Republican voters. I don't think that was the case with Murkowski.

    I'm also savouring the irony of someone being unhappy because of mean remarks about Trump supporters.

  • Does Trump actually want to be president, as opposed to being on the front page of every paper all the time? That may be assuming too much. If he's not the nominee, what route then would get him the most media? Spoiler.

  • "If he's not the nominee, what route then would get him the most media?"

    Actually, on reflection, he'd do best pressing his followers to vote Hilary. He then gets to claim any Hilary win as a tribute to his influence. The bigger the better.

    he wasn't a republican before, he may not be after.

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