In American history, we have had four Presidential elections in which there were four candidates who gained a substantial percentage of popular votes.
The first time was 1824, with Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William Crawford and Henry Clay.
The second time was 1860, with Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, John C. Breckinridge, and John Bell.
The third time was 1912, with Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Eugene Debs.
The fourth time was 1948, with Harry Truman, Thomas E. Dewey, Strom Thurmond, and Henry A. Wallace.
The first two times, 1824 and 1860, saw the success of new political parties, the Democrats under Jackson by 1828 and the Republicans under Lincoln in 1860. The third time brought the success of progressivism at its peak under Wilson with Roosevelt’s indirect contributions, and the fourth insured the forward movement in foreign and domestic policy under Truman.
Now in 2016, we could have four candidates, including Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and potentially Bernie Sanders or Jesse Ventura. And who can deny that Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney or John Kasich might also be potential candidates?
The first three named above seem almost certain, but there is some speculation that Sanders could run on a independent line, and that Jesse Ventura, the former Governor of Minnesota, might run if Sanders fails to be the Democratic nominee, and decides to avoid an independent run. If Trump is nominated, the odds of Ryan or Romney or Kasich running as the “Establishment” Republican opponent grows, just as is likely that Trump will run as an independent if he is not the party’s nominee.
Hillary Clinton would win against a split Republican Party, but IF Sanders runs or even Ventura, the potential exists, in a four way race, for anything to happen, including the need to use the 12th Amendment, as occurred in 1824, which would give the Republican nominee the advantage, with the Republican control of the House of Representatives!