We know third party candidacies for President fail and yet it’s been tried twice since 1980. Lifelong Republican John Anderson ran as an Independent against Ronald Reagan and Democrat incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980. Reagan won 44 states. John Anderson won none. In 1992 Ross Perot ran as the candidate for the Reform Party. He received 18.9% of the vote allowing Bill Clinton to win the Presidency with only 43% of the vote.
This year’s election is ripe for another third party Presidential run. According to Pew Research, 28% of voters think Hillary would make a ‘terrible’ President and another 16% believe she would be a ‘poor’ President. For Trump those numbers are 38% say he would be a terrible President and another 14% say a poor President. Only half of Republicans who are not Trump supporters say they will support him in the general election. Where will these voters go? For whom will they vote?
Earlier this week Politico reported that three conservative leaders organized a Thursday meeting of influential conservatives to discuss how to stop Trump, and if that doesn’t work, and Trump becomes the nominee, how to run a conservative challenger against Trump in November. From Politico.com,
The organizers of the meeting include Bill Wichterman, who was President George W. Bush’s liaison to the conservative movement; Bob Fischer, a South Dakota businessman and longtime conservative convener; and Erick Erickson, the outspoken Trump opponent and conservative activist who founded RedState.com.
“Please join other conservative leaders to strategize how to defeat Donald Trump for the Republican nomination,” the three wrote in an invitation obtained by POLITICO that recently went out to conservative leaders, “and if he is the Republican nominee for president, to offer a true conservative candidate in the general election.”
At the conclusion of that meeting on Thursday the group called for a ‘unity ticket’ to stop Trump.
“He shouldn’t be president of the United States,” said Quin Hillyer, a conservative columnist who emerged from the meeting as the new spokesman for the two dozen or so people who attended. He called the mood inside the room “resolute.”
“Not only is he not conservative,” Hillyer said, “he’s also just not a good face for the country.”
Those involved in the meeting said their focus was on preventing Trump from securing the nomination. But what happens if they are unsuccessful in stopping Trump from becoming the nominee? We’ll have to wait and see, but the large number of people who say #NeverTrump makes a conservative third party run a real possibility.