Friday, December 18, 2015

If Sanders Went Independent And Carried Just Vermont That Could Give GOP The Win

The headlines scream;

"Chaos in the Democratic presidential primary

Clinton accuses Sanders of theft and the underdog alleges sabotage"

"Sanders sues Democratic Party"

Basically the situation is this;

 "A civil war erupted within the Democratic Party on Friday after news that Bernie Sanders' campaign took advantage of a technological glitch to access, search and save one of Hillary Clinton's most valuable campaign assets -- her 
voter files."

Tension rapidly escalated throughout the day as the Democratic National Committee cut off Sanders' access to his own voter files, effectively crippling his field operation, and the senator retaliated by suing the party and accusing its leaders of plotting to hand the presidential nomination to the Democratic frontrunner."

This is of course a godsend for the media who are struggling to write anything further about the GOP campaign. Their stories ran the gamut from"Trump is a joke" to "Trump won't get above 15%/20%/25%/30%" to "Carson/Fiorina/Rubio/Cruz surge". Now that Trump is at 39% and seems invulnerable to the best/worst efforts of the GOP Establishment and the media things were looking bleak, but the Sanders blow-up saved the day at least for a cycle or two.

But, and given the apparently irascible nature of Sanders if he feels badly done by, and even a dispassionate observer has to have some degree of empathy for him as far as his complaint of having the debates on a Saturday (especially just before Christmas) when nobody will be watching,
if he did decide to throw in the towel and go Independent, the outcome might be devastating for Hillary.

It hardly seems credible that an independent Sanders run could propel him into the White House on a surge of "progressive populism" but there is no doubt he could make a significant run. He has a mass of supporters including the "Kossite" progressives at Daily Kos who have exploded in fury at the treatment of "The Bern" with, at this writing 294 articles most of which expressed outrage.

Money would also appear to not be a concern as Sanders has gone the grassroots way, as befits a socialist, having raised at least $26 million in small donations.

It may be that the DNC's cunning plan of having a limited number of debates, and having them at the worst possible time, may backfire on them by driving a genuine outsider even further outside, in fact right outside the tent whose flaps he only recently came in by. It is worth noting that the GOP's cunning plan has also been upset by an outsider who, if he went Independent (which seems unlikely at this point) could also throw the election into chaos. It is clear that both Establishments completely misjudged the mood of an angry electorate on the left and the right.

In Electoral College terms, which is, in the end, all that matters, (who wins the popular vote is secondary-see Gore.Al) how might an Independent run by Sanders affect the outcome. The answer is, rather surprisingly, that if Sanders only won his home state of Vermont with its measly three electoral votes, that could, very reasonably, give the election to the GOP. Let's look at the map

This outcome is obviously very possible. The difference for the GOP from 2012 is that Florida, Virginia and Ohio are in their column. For all practical purposes if Florida goes Dem. then their is no need for any further discussion-that would be that. Even with Florida in the GOP column a path to an electoral college majority without Ohio seems dubious. Without Virginia the GOP would have to pick up Colorado/Iowa/Nevada a challenge but, just, doable. 

The map above is basically the G.W. Bush Map of 2004 with Bush having won the three "doable"states. The difference with this map is Sanders winning Vermont which would leave Hillary 1 Electoral College vote short of the 270 required.

Then the election would be thrown into the (presumable Republican state delegation majority-see map below) House which would choose between the top three candidates (I set out the constitutional procedure also below). At that point, a states one person delegation, i.e. the Congressman from Vermont, could have the final say on who would be president. If Sanders was so upset with the DNC that he instructed Vermont's one person caucus to cast their vote for the GOP (if the vote was 25 GOP to 24 Dem) the GOP candidate would win 26 to 24.

However, the most likely resolution would be a GOP caucus dominated House would choose the GOP presidential candidate on the first ballot.

If by swearing in day a tie had not been resolved the person the Senate had chosen as vice-president, would become president. What the balance of the Senate might be after November 2016 is still a mystery so how this scenario might play out is also a mystery. But, if the GOP held the Senate then it would be in their hands to chose the GOP's vice-presidential candidate who would become president.

"if by the first Monday following the second Wednesday in March 2016, as the constitution requires, there is no President, the Senate's choice of Vice-President will take over-"

A quick glance at the map shows how this situation might be avoided altogether. If, as seems very likely, Sanders pulled a "Nader" and took enough votes from Clinton in New Hampshire (as happened to Gore in 2000) then the Republican would have 270 Electoral College votes and be elected. 

It would be beyond amusing if it turned out that, rather than the GOP with their Trump concerns, it eventuated that Sanders was the wild card that cost Hillary her second chance of being president-and it would be a self-inflicted wound.


The constitution is very clear (Article 12) on the matter. 

Under the constitution, the GOP standard bearer, the Dem, and the third party candidate would be the candidates the House would decide from. (presuming no other candidate had any electoral college votes. If they did they would be eliminated from the balloting as only the top three go through for consideration)

"Every state would have one vote based  on the result of each states party representation. Thus, for example New York’s one vote would go to the Dem, and Wyoming’s one vote would go to the Republican. 
It would be unlikely that the GOP would lose control of the House and the state caucus delegations in the 2016 Congressional elections, thus, on the most recent analysis, the GOP would have a majority of the 50 states votes based on caucus outcomes when balloting."

This scenario played out before. In the election of 1824 Andrew Jackson finished first with more electoral votes than John Quincy Adams, William Crawford came third and Henry Clay fourth. With Clay eliminated he threw the support of his states to Adams, who was duly elected, based on the fact of his having the majority of states.