…and I’ll Cry if I Want To. Our correspondent Ted explains the whole sad situation in which the Republics have placed themselves:
As I predicted, the financial part of the GOP is looking at a 3rd party
If they do so, Bernie then will have to take a close look at the dynamics of a 4-way race. Does he have a solid base of more than 25%, and if so, is his support distributed across the country in a way that could generate an Electoral College majority?
He clearly can raise the money to compete, and so will be tempted to at least explore this and stay in the race until October or so, to keep Hillary’s pro-Wall Street inclinations in check. And he may even be able to see his way clear to taking his campaign all the way through to November without harming the overall goal of making sure that a Republican does not succeed Obama.
The realities of a contested general election in which no person gains an Electoral College majority — which under the Constitution would be decided in the House unless a fearful Supreme Court, as it did in 2000, decides that it would be crazy to follow the very clear, simple, and frankly common-sense constitutional guidelines requiring the House to decide contested presidential elections — seem on their face pretty clear: the GOP candidate will prevail.
But, if there are two GOP candidates, which one?
In a three- or four-way race, with likely fractured loyalties amongst the House GOP, the question will be, can it coalesce either around Trump, or around Establishment Candidate X (Kasich, Ryan, Rubio, Romney)?
The dynamite thing here for Hillary is that when you look at the realities of a multi-candidate election that is resolved in the House, but where there are two Republican candidates, the GOP may not be able to maintain a working majority!
At the same time, the Democrats quite likely will remain totally solid for Hillary, meaning that despite, or actually because of the GOP majority in the House, she would become the favorite if the election were thrown into the House (especially given that the Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, is hugely skillful at parliamentary maneuver). So if there is a third party GOP candidate, Hillary has not one, but two excellent chances to win: first at the ballot box, and then on the House floor if she doesn't get a majority…
Also, because of Hillary’s woeful lack of skillfulness as a candidate, I don’t think she really has much of a chance in a one-on-one battle with Trump (I mean, Trump one-on-one against Hillary likely retains the deep-red southern base, but also puts in play states that a Democrat simply cannot win without — states like Massachusetts, New Jersey, potentially Minnesota and maybe even Maryland) — but a three-way race between her, Trump, and another Republican could put her in the exact same position as her husband, who limped into the White House in 1992 with a mere plurality of the popular vote due to the Ross Perot candidacy.
At the same time, the interesting thing here for Bernie is that, given that if there is really a substantial third party establishment GOP candidate who can win enough electoral college votes to deny either Hillary or Trump an outright majority (which I actually doubt), Bernie can probably justify staying in the race not just to October, but all the way to general election without causing Ralph Nader-type harm to the Democrats’ ultimate chances at the White House. And this will be attractive if for no other reason than to keep progressive policy pressure on both Hillary and Trump.
Obviously, Scalia would have intervened again to keep the perfectly reasonable constitutional process for deciding contested presidential elections to play itself out — but God, who is evidently a telenovela screenwriter, had a different plan, and now we are looking at a court that due to Republican intransigence may remain evenly divided during a contested presidential election, meaning that potentially conflicting election rulings covering only certain federal appeals court regions in the country could be allowed to stand — a ridiculous, though perfectly legal, result that only reinforces the likelihood that a contested election makes its way into the House, as the founding fathers wanted. (And won’t Mitch McConnell then be wishing he had back his decision to squelch the Brian Sandoval Supreme Court nomination!)
Anyway, if I am a Hillary Super Pac official I am looking at whether I should put some serious bucks behind a third-party establishment GOP candidate. And if I am Bernie Sanders, if an establishment GOP candidate does emerge, I may look seriously at continuing on as an independent candidate at least through the summer, and possibly beyond.
And, finally, look for Speaker Paul Ryan to put whatever muscle he can behind this move for an establishment GOP candidacy, since if I am Paul Ryan, I am thinking that all of this may add up to a non-trivial chance that I will once again be prevailed upon by a desperately divided House GOP caucus to take on oh-so-reluctantly a job running a branch of the federal government!
Anyway, what a show! Keep the popcorn flowing.