Truth is stranger than fiction. As a country we appear to be on a path of destruction on the one hand and winding the clock backwards on the other. Alas, there is another way — a third route — a dignified path to prosperity and possibility. If Gov. Mitt Romney, the former Republican nominee chooses to run as an Independent candidate he can — and will win.
This is not another article about influencing, changing, or rigging either convention delegates or electoral votes. Instead the analysis explains Romney’s pragmatic path to victory without a Constitutional sleight of hand. While no third party candidate has won a Presidential election, people forget how close they have come before.
In 1992, Ross Perot’s candidacy under the Reform Party was positioned to win it all against an incumbent President just 2 years removed from 87 percent approval ratings who also shared the same home state of Texas. By the middle of 1992, Perot was actually leading the race in a few polls. Importantly, Mr. Perot withdrew from the race in July and didn’t reenter the race until October. He still received 19 percent of the popular vote.
In 1912, former President Teddy Roosevelt founded the Progressive Party, which is almost, but not quite, as ironic as rebranding old socialist/liberal ideas as progressive. The real Progressive Party — sometimes called the Bull Moose Party — played the spoiler role propelling Woodrow Wilson to victory; however, former President Roosevelt outperformed the incumbent President Taft 27 percent to 23 percent. Many historians believe that if the Progressive Party only ran President Roosevelt at the Presidential level he may have indeed won the election as many Republicans and Democrats would have been willing to split their tickets. They were unwilling to do so with congressional and local candidates being fielded as a national third party. There was uncertainty in the air in 1912, but it seems mild in comparison to what the world is presently witnessing on America’s political platform.
According to a June 25 Wall Street Journal article the present percentage of voters that dislike Hillary Clinton is an astonishing 54 percent. Not to be outdone, Donald Trump is disliked by 63 percent of adult voters.The percentage that dislikes both is 25 percent.
In 2016, more voters identify as Independent, 39 percent than Democrat, 32 percent, or Republican, 23 percent.
To be elected President a candidate must obtain 270 electoral votes. Romney’s path to victory requires the following obtainable objectives: (1) Win enough electoral votes to deny either Trump or Clinton 270; and (2) help preserve the House of Representatives in the hands of the GOP. If these two objectives are attained then it is nearly impossible to envision the current Republican nominee prevailing over the former Republican nominee in a contested House of Representatives. Can you say Speaker Paul Ryan?
The governor will likely be very competitive in a 3-way race in Texas (38 votes), Washington (12), Minnesota (10), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9) and possibly his present home state of California (55). He only needs a combination of some of these states to deny Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton their path to 270. More to the point, he does not need California and Texas in order to win under this strategy. Of course, winning either of those two states alone would deny Secretary Clinton or Mr. Trump their path to achieving 270.
Make no mistake; it isn’t just red states or traditional battleground states that are in play in a 3-way race. Indeed, the highest percentage of independent voters in America occurs in the bluest of states to include Romney’s former home state of Massachusetts (12 electoral votes), where a remarkable 53 percent of voters identify as independent. Additional blue states in play for Romney include New Jersey’s 14 electoral votes (48 percent independent), Connecticut’s 7 electoral votes, (40 percent independent), and Rhode Island’s 4 votes (49 percent independent).
Among possible third party candidates, Romney possesses assets that incomparable. He is just 4-years removed from being the Republican nominee. He is a battle-tested candidate with national name recognition, as well as a long list of supporters and donors. Romney is well versed on national issues. Indeed history has proven him right on a number of topics that media elitists mocked him for during the last cycle (e.g. Russian influence and Benghazi Talking Points). Even the governor’s chief liability during the last election (a rich, white, one-per-center) doesn’t seem as pronounced in a race involving Clinton and Trump. In 2016 it is not at all hard to believe, that Romney can win a popularity contest involving these three candidates. In fact, the contest could even turn into a landslide victory for the former savior of the 2002 winter Olympics.
We are in an era where the world is awaiting either an indictment or Shakespearean tragedy or both. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction. For Party; for Country; for dignity and honesty — Governor Romney please lead us up this path. The alternative is President HRC, Justice Obama, and Justice Warren. History is calling!
Paul McConnell is an attorney from West Hartford.
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