Previously, we discussed possible options for the Republican Party. One was to rally around its nominee, as always. Two was to throw caution to the wind, and pick someone other than the “presumptive nominee.” Three was to run a third-party candidate, knowing they’d lose, but the “conservative establishment” would maintain its control on the party’s identity.

Now, Politico has come up with a new, or really old, fourth option.

Unlikely as it may be as an actual solution this year, history tells us there is indeed another possibility for winning the general [election] as a party and managing to dump Trump. The strategy involves running not one, but three candidates—this year, say Trump, Cruz and Kasich—in the general election in November.

It’s farfetched, but it’s a scenario that is allowed by the Constitution, and in theory could be done with a tweak to the party’s bylaws. The goal is to block the Democratic nominee from winning an electoral majority by running the Republican candidate in each state most able to win there. If the Democratic candidate were held short of 270 electoral votes, the outright majority, then the House of Representatives would be asked to choose the president from the top three vote-getters, regardless of what party they are from. If the House stays under GOP control, it would almost certainly select a Republican as president.

Historically, it has been tried: The Whigs ran three candidates against Democrat Martin Van Buren in 1836.

In this scenario, it wouldn’t be a matter of “dumping” Trump. In fact, the other two candidates wouldn’t have to even run “against” him. It would be a matter of dividing up the map, as Cruz tried to do with Kasich—divide and conquer. In this scenario, Hillary would have to run against three different Republicans, and not be able to craft one, unified message.

Could running Trump in the states where he has a better chance of beating Clinton than Cruz, running Cruz in the states where he has a better chance of beating Clinton than Trump, and running Kasich in Ohio (where Cruz and Trump lose to Clinton) be a winning maneuver?

Why would Trump go for this? Because there would be a rule that the top vote-getting Republican would become president. Right now, that looks like Trump, so why would Cruz or Kasich participate?

Cruz could also have a path to victory. For example, if Cruz were to win other swing states, like Colorado or New Hampshire (where he is favored), then Cruz’s electoral votes would be greater than Trump’s. And, in this scenario, Cruz would be chosen by the Republican House as the general election victor.

Trump, if nothing else, is an iconoclast. If he thought he would have trouble defeating Hillary outright, he might go along with this subterfuge. Think of it, he could stand out as unique in history. And, of course, Cruz still says he’d love to get back in the race if there were any path to winning. Meanwhile, Kasich loved to say that he was the only Republican who out-polls Hillary, so he might go for it, too.

This entire idea rests on winning “states,” not “votes.” It’s about finding ways to keep Hillary below the 270 electoral votes needed. But there’s another way.

People think someone has to win 270, but that’s not so. There is not a total of 539 electors. There are only 538. So it is entirely possible for neither candidate to win the 270 needed to become president. Here’s a map to play with from 270ToWin.

The map shows the “blue” states and the “red” states, where the parties are expected to win. It also shows “beige” swing states: Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.

Of those ten states, let’s say Trump takes half—Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, and North Carolina. OR just four—Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa—and flip New Mexico. Either would give him 269 electoral votes, which would only leave 269 for Hillary. Having neither candidate receiving the required majority of at least 270, the election would be thrown into the House of Representatives to decide.

Which party do you think the Republican-controlled (246-188) House would choose?


  1. As much as some of the Republicans despise Trump, I could see some of them picking Hillary.

  2. But isn’t the House’s vote by state? Each state gets one vote, so the two Republican reps in Idaho, say, are effectively neutralized by the two Democratic reps in Hawaii.

    • No. If you’re talking about the first part of the article, in which the House would choose the president, Idaho has two representatives, while Hawaii has two representatives. They would likely cancel out. But California has 53 representatives and Alaska has one rep.

      See it here:

      Regarding the Electoral College, click on the red link “map to play with.” It will show you that each state has its own number, which is determined by the population reported in the official census. For instance, in your example, Idaho has six votes, while Hawaii has four. Meanwhile, California has 55 and Alaska has 3.

      Play with the map. You’ll find it quite educational.

      • I’m talking about the last sentence of the article: “Which party do you think the Republican-controlled (246-188) House would choose?”

        Twelfth Amendment (partial): “if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote;”

        • Sorry. I misunderstood your point. I was taking a short cut. Since the House is so overwhelmingly Republican, I didn’t think there’d be any question of their choice. So now, you’re making me work. . .

          Yes, Alaska has only one Republican, and Hawaii has two Democrats, but they would cancel out each other. AND teeny-tiny Alaska would cancel out California!

          These are Republican States: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

          These are Democratic States: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington

          Tied: Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey

          SO–If the election were thrown into the house, it’s likely that a Republican would be chosen by 33 states (one vote each), and the Democrat could only rely on 14 states. More than two-to-one.

          This year is a real civics lesson. . .

  3. The only time in American history that party as split with two candudates competing for the WH against a Republican was in 1948 when Harry Truman won against Thimas E. Dewey, the GOP nominee for that year and Strom Thumond, a POTUS nominee for the Dixiecrats. I might want to point out that Harry Truman was a far man, candidate and POTUS than any of the POTUS candidates put together past or present. It is the reason why he was elected. On another spin, this spin of events maybe the reason why Hillary gets in the WH with Trump running and maybe Cruz running on an independent ticket. It may come down to who each of them select as their VP. The conventions should prove more interesting than ever. In any case this election is one for the record books.

    • Jerrie,
      Strom Thurmond was a Democrat in 1948, when he ran as a “Dixiecrat,” against Truman. But in that same year, former Democratic Vice President Henry A. Wallace also ran, as a “Progressive.” So there were three Dems running against one GOP candidate.

      Likewise, in 1968, Democrat George Wallace ran against Democrat Hubert Humphrey, on the American Independent Party ticket. Then, in 1976, Democrat Eugene McCarthy ran against Democrat Jimmy Carter, as an Independent.

      In 1980, Republican John B. Anderson ran against Ronald Reagan, as an independent. In 1988, Republican Ron Paul ran against Republican GHW Bush, as a Libertarian. And in 2000, Republican Pat Buchanan ran against Republican George W. Bush.

      It’s important to note, however, in all these cases, the third or fourth candidate did not officially run on the Democratic or Republican ticket.

  4. IN other news:
    “Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he
    feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!” -Donald
    Trump Oct 2015

    “Sheldon Adelson Pledges $100 Million to Elect Trump President”
    -Breitbart May 2016 ?#?ChumpsForTrump?

  5. In all the examples cited , the official party candidate won.Except in case of Harry Truman. But then no one in the current contest is of that stature and hence the real fight shall be between Trump and Clinton.However , GOP can avoid split in votes by nominating Cruz as running mate.

    • Not sure which “examples” you’re referring to. If it’s my response to Jerrie,
      “Official candidate” Harry Truman did win. It was Hubert Humphrey who didn’t.

      • Sorry ! I got it wrong.Truman was indeed party’s chosen candidate.Actually I wanted to say that it is very difficult for any Dem or Rep leader how so ever popular , to win against the party’s chosen nominee.Humphrey Hubert appears to be an exception as your reply to Jerie shows.

        • Third party candidates only run to make a point–and sometimes, out of spite (as a “spoiler”). I’m old enough to remember the George Wallace, John Anderson, and Pat Buchanan runs. They were also still talking about Henry Wallace and Strom Thurmond when I was young.

          The only third candidate who seemed to think he had a chance to win was Ross Perot, in 1992. He got more than half as many votes as Bush41. George Wallace got 46 electoral votes (the “Solid South”), but had little support elsewhere.

          Back to Perot, he sounded a lot like Trump, and might have won, but he flipped out during the campaign. He withdrew, but then started campaigning again, so he looked all the more like a gadfly.

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