Would a late-comer have a chance to win in 2016?

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tags: election 2016



The possibility of serving up a third-party conservative candidate as an alternative to likely GOP nominee Donald Trump in November’s U.S. presidential election has been bandied about in the media and behind closed establishment doors with growing frequency. And while party leaders such as Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus have dismissed such a move as both too late and too likely to hurt Republicans in November, others believe, as conservative radio host Erick Erickson told Fox News, that it should remain a “final fall-back option” to stop Trump.

With the filing deadlines for most states coming up this summer (Texas’s is the earliest, on May 9), there is a closing window of opportunity to pursue such a nuclear action or for an independent candidate (not named Michael Bloomberg) to enter the race. Trump himself has called such a gambit “stupid,” arguing on ABC’s This Week that the “Republicans wouldn’t even have 1 percent of a chance of winning.” And, if history is any indication, Trump is right: A late-entry presidential candidate is virtually assured of defeat.

In 1912, the indomitable former president Teddy Roosevelt managed to mount a credible independent campaign as late as June after persuading progressive Republicans to bolt from the GOP convention in order to challenge the sitting president and GOP nominee, William Howard Taft. Roosevelt told reporters he felt like a bull moose, giving rise to the short-lived Progressive (Bull Moose) Party, although the primary effect of Roosevelt’s late bid was ensuring that Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected president.

It’s hard to imagine a former party heavyweight today, like Mitt Romney, having the gumption to go bull moose on his party’s nominee; besides, the extended primary election season that has developed pretty much precludes such a phenomenon. Still, even in the past half century, such challenges didn’t prevent several stop-the-front-runner candidates from throwing their hats into a ring that, for all intents and purposes, had already closed.




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