Conservative scholar Thomas Sowell made an interesting point in his most recent column. He’s not the first to think of it; many in the #NeverTrump movement have pushed towards unlikely scenarios in an effort to stop the two presumptive nominees from ever reaching the White House. However, he’ the first to briefly point out a radical play that might be crazy enough to work.
Discussions of a third party candidate have spread across every spectrum from far-left supporters of Bernie Sanders to Libertarians pushing Gary Johnson (while quietly hoping for Rand Paul) to a slew of conservatives looking at Ben Sasse or even Ted Cruz. Almost all of them are wondering if their candidate could mount enough of an effort to unseat the only two major parties by winning the general election, but that’s not necessary.
They don’t have to win. They have to keep the other two from winning.
A third party candidate doesn’t have to win the 270 electoral college votes in order to become President. They simply have to win enough states and hope for a favorable split that prevents Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump from getting to the majority mark as well. If that happens, all bets are off. The Presidency is then decided by the House of Representatives and the Vice President is chosen by the Senate.
Sounds weird, right? It gets weirder. The vote is divided up equally by state with one vote chosen by the representatives. In other words, California with their army of Congressmen would get one vote for Hillary while Iowa would also get one vote determined by their three Republican and one Democratic Congressman. With 50 total votes (DC doesn’t get one), whoever gets 26 wins.
In a situation where a conservative is able to start pulling support in red states from Trump, the GOP nominee would likely make his predicted shift to the center. There, he could pull states from Clinton, particularly if her email scandal grows. It’s not entirely impossible for a conservative third-party candidate to send the election to the House and have a realistic chance of winning the Presidency.
If it sounds like a complete fantasy, that’s because at this point it likely is. Conservatives would have to mobilize very quickly to even get on the ballots in November. They would have to galvanize like they’ve never done before. It would require some very bad press for both Trump and Clinton and it wouldn’t hurt if Bernie Sanders made a third (fourth?) party run as well.
Conservative journalists like Erick Erickson and Bill Kristol have been actively seeking a viable third party conservative. If they can get together and coordinate with the rest of us in the grassroots, there’s an ever-so-slight chance that not all hope is lost.