A 1912 Election In 2016: A Third Party Campaign Ending Up Second, And Republican Candidate Third?

In the crazy world of American politics, the concept has grown that we could be witnessing an election in 2016 that might emulate the Presidential Election of 1912, where Woodrow Wilson, the Democrat defeated Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party nominee, and Republican President William Howard Taft.

We could, in theory, have businessman Donald Trump, who is, right now, riding high in the polls, being treated in a way that he feels is unjust. He has already said that he would not pledge to support the Republican nominee for President, if if is not him, and if he feels he has been treated unfairly.

So, were that scenario to happen, Trump could, very well, run on a third party or independent ticket, copying the route of billionaire Ross Perot, who ran as an independent in 1992, helping to elect Bill Clinton over President George H. W. Bush.

We could have Hillary Clinton, or even Joe Biden, if he chooses to run, or even Bernie Sanders, benefit from a Republican party split. And imagine if Jeb Bush was the losing Republican candidate to another Clinton.

But also, Trump has shown strength in a poll in a three way races, with him gaining 20 percent of the vote, similar to Ross Perot’s 19 percent in 1992.

But what if Trump’s popularity were to continue to grow, and Trump could match third party nominee Theodore Roosevelt’s 27.5 percent of the vote in 1912, leading TR to end up second, rather than third, the only time a third party has ended up second instead of third?

Imagine the shock if Clinton or Biden or even Sanders won 42-43 percent of the vote and won the Electoral College, with Bush or some other Republican ending up third behind Trump, just as President William Howard Taft did in 1912, when he only won 23 percent of the vote!

If Trump were to end up with mid 20s percentage of the vote, it would be likely that he would win some states in the Electoral College, with the Republican winning very few states, as with Taft only winning two states in 1912.

That scenario, were it to happen, would be the true demise of the Republican Party as we know it, but maybe, just maybe, it would lead to a “purging” of the party, and a return to moderate centrist conservative government, and an ultimate revival resembling the party of the Eisenhower to Ford years!

4 comments on “A 1912 Election In 2016: A Third Party Campaign Ending Up Second, And Republican Candidate Third?

  1. D August 18, 2015 11:18 pm

    Having fun with this exercise: I would imagine the winning Democrat garnering more than 42 or 43 percent.

    In 1988, George Bush won 53.37 percent of the U.S. Popular Vote, in what was a Republican hold of the presidency (third straight for that party!), over the 45.65 percent for losing Democrat Michael Dukakis.

    In the Democratic pickup year of 1992, Bill Clinton unseated Bush with having received 43.01 percent of the U.S. Popular Vote to Bush’s 37.45 percent. Ross Perot, the independent candidate, received 18.91 percent.

    Ross Perot received, at best, a 50-to-50 portion of votes which would have gone Republican or Democratic had he not been on the general-election ballot. (That would have, in theory, made Bill Clinton reach 52 percent, to unseated George Bush’s 46 percent, of the U.S. Popular Vote.)

    What helped explain why Perot didn’t carry any states were attributed much to most of the states giving Perot percentages (not to be confused with percentage margins) pretty close to his national number. In some states, he was a little lower. In some states he was a little higher than that national percentage. In two states he finished second: Utah, a Republican hold for Bush, and Maine, a Democratic pickup for Clinton.

    To envision a 2016 independent Donald Trump nabbing 27.50 percent of the U.S. Popular Vote would have me picturing him nabbing about a 90-to-10 rate of self-identified Republicans vs. self-identified Democrats supporting him.

    Depending on the trajectory of Election 2016 (comparing just the two-party candidates, would be a Republican or a Democratic shift?), I’d say that Republican/independent ticket would amount to no more than a combined 49 percent … if they’re even that likely.

    So, picture it:

    • Republican Nominee 21.50 percent
    • Democratic Nominee 50.00 percent
    • Independent Nominee 27.50 percent

    That would produce a result similar to 1912. But, due to particular states’ voting patterns, nowadays, I think the Republican would eke out the four single-digit electoral-vote states which are seemingly automatic for the party: Idaho, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming. But if the contest yielded such results, it would be in question whether that Republican could hold onto Alabama and/or Mississippi. And the plains states North Dakota, South Dakota, and especially both Nebraska and Kansas would be Donald Trump’s best bet to pick off those seemingly automatic Republican votes to become the first independent to win any electoral votes since a 1968 American Independent George Wallace.

    Do I think any of this is going to happen?


    I am reminded of four years ago, from 2011, when talk of nominating around Mitt Romney turned out to be a time-waster. When Romney got rolling along during the primaries and caucuses, and vanquished the likes of Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry, it happened for two reasons: 1) the campaign money for funding Romney; 2) a wimping out from the Republican primaries and caucuses voters.

  2. Ronald August 19, 2015 5:53 am

    I enjoyed reading your theory of what could happen, and as always, I find you fascinating in political analysis, D. Thanks so much!

  3. Princess Leia August 19, 2015 5:24 pm

    I would love to know how he plans to pay for that and his wall?! Probably gonna be cuts in education, welfare programs, etc.!

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