Democrats and Establishment Republicans are angry and desperate that president Trump is in the White House. Democrats are at their lowest ebb of political power in 100 years and Washington Republicans and conservatives see their cozy “insider” club being challenged by Trump.
They also know that Trump’s effectiveness comes from his “outsider” and businessman status.
Meanwhile everyone knows that incumbent presidents are difficult to unseat particularly when that president has succeeded in energizing the economy in a short period of time as Trump has done.
President Trump’s approval numbers in the accurate Rasmussen poll recently reached 50%. That is an amazing number for someone who is savaged in the media every minute, and it is several points higher than Obama’s polls at this time in his presidency. And Obama was easily re-elected.
Thus there is talk that various groups may seek to run some type of third-party candidate in the November 2020 general election. Ostensibly such a candidate would offer voters an option to the increasingly radical Democrats and to Trump. But that is false.
The real goal, however, would be to run a somewhat centrist candidate who would siphon votes away from Trump and throw the election to the Democrat, which is a tactic that has been used before.
There have been third-party candidates since the founding of the Republic. The Libertarians have run candidates many times and so has the Green party.
But a fake “third-party” candidate in 2020 would be a much more well-known and well-funded candidate running only in order to take a much bigger chunk of the votes than the Libertarians and Greenies, and to take the election away from Trump.
This vote-diversion tactic has been used in these two examples of note:
*In 2011 in a historically Republican US House district in upstate New York near Buffalo a wealthy liberal Democrat businessman named Jack Davis ran as a fake Tea Party conservative in a “special” election. He succeeded in siphoning enough votes from the Republican candidate to swing the seat to the Democrat.
*The most significant case came in 1992 when independent presidential candidate Ross Perot (net worth today is estimated at $4 billion) siphoned off 19% of the general election votes, or 19.6 million votes. That total included more than enough votes taken from incumbent Republican president George HW Bush to throw the presidency to Democrat Bill Clinton. It is widely known that Perot hated Bush and ran specifically to harm Bush.
Then the question becomes: Who would be the third-party candidate in 2020? And on what platform? Conservative, moderate or liberal? And would the plan work like 1992?
Nikitas3.com has discussed a third-party run in both 2012 and 2016. One name that kept popping up was former mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City, one of the wealthiest men in America who would have plenty of his own money to pump into a campaign.
He governed the city as a moderate Republican and then as an independent. But he is 76 years old today and has teased a run several times before and so would face credibility problems and questions about his age.
A third-party presidential run is nothing to be taken lightly. It requires national organization, fundraising and a huge amount of work. A wealthy candidate would be best since he or she could self-finance a campaign. And unless a party runs a candidate in every presidential election with an established campaign infrastructure, like the Libertarians, it is very difficult to start a national campaign from scratch.
Then again Ross Perot did it. And there are plenty of Trump-hater billionaires in the US who would be willing to put their own money out to seek to defeat the president.
But a third-party ploy against Trump probably would not work in the 2020 election and for several good reasons:
*First, the field will already be crowded. In 2016 there was Trump and Hillary and then two other parties, the Libertarian party (which got 3.27% of the 2016 popular vote) and the Green party (1.06%), and then the smaller Independent (.53%) and Constitution (.16%) parties.
*Second, Trump is pretty conservative and thus a third-party candidate would need to be a centrist or moderate, not a flamethrower liberal like billionaires Mark Cuban ($3.2 billion) or Tom Steyer ($1.6 billion).
Possible candidates include Republican Arizona US senator Jeff Flake or Republican Nebraska US senator Ben Sasse. But Flake is so unpopular in Arizona that he is not even running for re-election. That would give Trump ammunition to attack him. Nikitas3.com predicts that Flake might run against Trump in the primaries – and lose in a landslide – but not in a general election third-party challenge since Flake has little nationwide appeal.
There even has been talk recently that allegedly “conservative” political commentator Bill Kristol might run in the primaries against Trump, or maybe third-party. He hates Trump. But this must be a joke. Kristol is a wimpy Washington intellectual who has no political or business experience and has all of the personality of an eggplant. Trump would chew him up and spit him out.
Any centrist would have a hard time. After all Trump already has attracted centrists to his campaign and should attract even more in 2020 now that they see his success. Thus a centrist third-party candidate in 2020 could end up siphoning more votes away from the Democrat nominee than from Trump since the Democrats have gone so far to the extreme.
See how complicated this gets? And nobody can predict what might happen.
*President Trump would not be afraid to call out the fraud. He would warn voters away from the shill candidate. You can be sure that any potential third-party candidate would consider Trump’s fearlessness when thinking about whether to run. They know that Trump would be ruthless. Most people would not want to be his target.
It is interesting to review how third-party Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson did in 2016. He is the former Republican governor of New Mexico. Libertarians would generally vote Republican if they had to choose between Democrats and Republicans since libertarians are advocates of small government. But that is hardly always true. Nikitas3.com knows personally of only one Johnson voter from 2016 and he is a New York City communist.
Even with Johnson in the race Trump won 57% of the electoral votes. Johnson did have an impact, however – he got 3.27% of the popular vote (4.49 million votes).
In Michigan, for example, Johnson got a total of just 51,463 votes, while Trump got 2.279 million votes and won by 10,704 votes over Hillary. Thus if Johnson had done better – and if it could be proven that he had taken all of his votes from Trump – then Hillary could have won Michigan.
Then again, in New Mexico in 2016, Hillary beat Trump by 65,567 votes while Johnson got a total of 74,541 votes since he was once the state’s governor. If all of those Johnson votes came from Republicans then Johnson did affect that state’s electoral votes to the detriment of Trump.
So again we can see how complicated this third-party story gets. This is the kind of things that a candidate would have to think about before committing to a presidential run. In the case of the anti-Trumpers they would have to wonder: Will our candidate draw enough votes away from Trump to make it worth the risk and investment of time, effort and money?
And that is something that nobody can ever know even after the votes have been counted since we can never tell how someone “might have voted”.
Another solution might be for the anti-Trumpers to get their candidate on the established Libertarian ticket and use the established infrastructure of the Libertarians to draw votes away from Trump.
If the Libertarian nominee happened to be anti-Trump that could work. But there is no chance that the Libertarians would allow their party to be hijacked specifically for the reason of harming Trump.