Today we’re standing right up to statistics giant Nate Silver, who calculates a pretty heavy certainty that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won’t win their respective nomination contests.
What Sanders and Trump have in common is they’re both unlikely to be nominated. (If I were laying odds, I’d put either one at something like 15-1 or 20-1 against.)
But never mind the numbers. Let’s put a rock in our sling and imagine what would happen if these two (very different, as Silver points out) thorns in the establishment’s side were to amass enough delegates each to be of the two major parties’ chosen ones.
Let that thought sink in for just a second.
What would Hillary do?
Has Hillary Clinton signed a loyalty pledge promising not to run as a third-party candidate? The Clintons would really, really like, please and thank you, to move back into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. To what lengths would they go to make that happen?
An independent Clinton run (or under a newly minted party banner) in this scenario obviously would triangulate to pull in moderates of whatever stripe. But two things would work against her: she’d be at war with the nation’s oldest surviving political party; and moderate Republicans, as repulsed by Trump as they might be, still would think twice before voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton.
What would Republicans do?
It’s at least remotely possible that a faction of anti-Trump Republicans could strike out on their own, find some way to renege on the pledge, and run their own ticket.
Could we have a four-way election, like some in America’s past? What if voters had these choices?
- Hillary Clinton, America Forever Party
- John Kasich, Modern Whig Party
- Bernie Sanders, Democratic Party
- Donald J. Trump, Republican Party
What would the national parties do?
Frankly, if it looked like the presidential preference primaries were going to yield a majority of delegates to Sanders, I don’t think the DNC would let him escape the convention. They would contain it through one maneuver or another, and preserve Clinton’s ascendancy.
I don’t know that I could be so bold with a prediction about the national Republican Party. It’s possible they would resign themselves to a Trump nomination and urge him to pick an agreeable running mate.
Yes, this is all casual conjecture. None of this will happen, probably.
But if Sanders and Trump were to win, we definitely could call it the “wild hair” election.