Bernie Sanders is doing everything he can to keep his campaign going and apparently to incite divisions in the Democratic party. Surely it is unprecedented for a major candidate to call for the Chair of the party to be overthrown!
His followers, especially at the "progressive" blogs sensing approaching doom, are becoming more vociferous about not voting for Hillary in November.
Unlike the 2008 "PUMA's who said they would not vote for Obama after Hillary lost, but did, it may well be that the new leftists who Sanders has brought into the primary campaigns may very well not vote for Hillary. If polls are any guide a significant number (twenty percent) may vote for Trump instead.
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 complaints of "funny business" in the primaries (Nevada etc) and the DNC stacking the game against him, if he did decide to throw in the towel and go Independent, the outcome might be devastating for Hillary.
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 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 and other such sites.
Money would also appear to not be a concern as Sanders has gone the grassroots way, as befits a socialist, having raised millions in small donations.
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 for Hillary then there 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 Pennsylvania or Colorado/Iowa/Nevada, a challenge but 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.
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.