Will Congress be Choosing our Next President?
With Trump continuing to win all around the country and, the Republican establishment’s Stop Trump movement seemingly unable to do it’s job, it’s getting more and more realistic that Trump will the 1237 delegates he needs to secure the Republican Presidential nomination or that he’ll be so close to that number that it would be very difficult for the establishment to deny him his win without an utter catastrophe on it’s hands.
With that in mind there has been talk that it will be the Establishment itself, and not Trump, who will split with the party and run a third party candidate of their own. A perfect, mainstream Republican ticket like a Romney/Kasich or a Romney/Rubio in a third party position is important for three major reasons.
First, it admits the Republican party has officially gone Humpty Dumpty and if they can ever put themselves back together again is uncertain. Secondly, it would almost certainly spoil Trump’s chance at the Presidency and seriously infuriate his supporters, and third, a legitimate third candidate run, could seriously mess with the Electoral college.
The electoral college works like this:
There are a total of 538 electoral votes split up by states - 100 votes to represent every state senator, 435 votes to represent all congressional districts and 3 votes on behalf of Washington DC. So, New York has 2 senators and 31 members in the House. New York is worth 33 electoral votes. Montana has 2 senators and 1 member in the House. Montana is worth 3 electoral votes.
The electoral votes in each state are winner take all (with the exception of Maine and Nebraska which are proportional) so the winner of the popular vote in each state walks away with ALL the electoral votes for that state.
To win the Presidential election a candidate must win the majority of the electoral votes. So with 538 up for grabs, a candidate must put together the right combination of states to give him/her 270 votes. Which is totally great if there are 2 legitimate parties. But what if there are 3?
A third Republican party would definitely deny both Republican tickets the 270 but, with the right combination and the right amount of wins, that party could also deny the Democrats their 270 as well and, without a majority winner, under the 12th Amendment of the Constitution, the entire election is bumped to the House of Representatives.
Without the majority of 270 votes, the power to pick the President is put to ballot in Congress essentially allowing Paul Ryan and his majority Republican House (and the money and power behind it) to hand pick the next President.
It’s like if athletes were running the marathon at the Olympics and it comes down to the final two people for the gold and, just as they’re about to cross the finish line, a guy steps out of the stands and crosses it before them. Everyone crowns him the winner and the rules say it’s fair and legal. But it doesn’t feel either does it?
This scenario is the exact reason Michael Bloomberg decided not to run as a third party candidate. He didn’t want to split the Democratic vote and pull votes from the Republicans just to deny all three parties the 270 and defer the Presidential choice to Congress.
Now, if you’re an establishment Republican, the idea of Congress choosing the President is an even better outcome than a brokered convention because you’d get more control over the nominee but also complete control and power over the choice.If you’re a Democrat, or anyone who believes in democracy however, this is a truly terrible possibility.
So, with that in mind, let’s talk feasibility:
While one hundred percent legal and legitimate, a situation like this hasn’t happened since 1824. There was potential for it to happen in 2000 but the Supreme Court made that unnecessary and in 1992 but Ross Perot didn’t win enough votes to truly challenge Bush or Clinton in the electoral college. Which brings us to today. With the infrastructure and fund raising capabilities of the Republican establishment there is a real possibility for a serious third party candidate but, it’s very complicated.
Every state has it’s own rules for getting on the ballot and many of them are incredibly arbitrary. Think of it like you want your kid to go on a field trip but each teacher going has their own set of hoops for you to jump through in order to allow your child to go. One teacher needs signatures from all family members. Another needs signatures but, they also need to be notarized. Another needs a doctor’s note and yet another needs a doctor’s note from a doctor who graduated magna cum lade from an east coast Ivy school between 1990 and 2009. It’s not impossible to complete all these tasks and allow your child to go but, it’s a lot to do in a time constraint and, if you get anything wrong (and people will be looking for you to get something wrong) your out.
No trip for you.
Aside from actually winning enough electoral votes to mess with the numbers, that’s the biggest issue for a third party establishment Republican candidate right now. They have a lot of hoops to jump through and not a lot of time to do it. To give you and idea of timing, the first deadline to submit signatures for ballot access is May 9th in Texas followed by 4 other states in June. So, if this is a real plan the elites can’t wait till July to broker the nomination away from Trump at the convention. They have to start now.
And so far we aren’t seeing that happen.
It seems far more likely they plan to stay the course. To continue to try and deny Trump his 1237 and then challenge him directly on the floor of the convention in Cleveland with a perfect, vetted, funded and approved “unity ticket” in July. As they recently said, “It took Lincoln three ballots to become the nominee. If it’s good enough for Lincoln it should be good enough for all the candidates without risk of riots.”