Worst-case Scenario

I was musing over what-ifs the other day. (I’m a writer. I do that.)

I was envisioning a worst-case scenario for the Democratic presidential nomination. Namely, that Clinton manages to get the nomination — through back-room politicking of Clinton-owing superdelegates, or by legal challenge to seat the delegates in Michigan and Florida. The massive number of new voters and non-Dem voters that Obama has brought into the process are disillusioned and disenfranchised.

In that event … I think Obama should run third-party.


I’m not talking about a Perot or Nader run, which would just draw a minority of voters from one party, leading to a win for the other party. I honestly think that with the enthusiasm he’s generated, and the huge numbers of independents and moderate Republicans he manages to attract, Obama has the best shot for a third-party presidency that we’ve ever seen.

Think about it — his core branding, “Change,” could just as easily be a refutation of the Democrat/Republican two-party system….especially if his run is sabotaged by what people would view as insiders gaming the system.

You’d then have an incredibly charismatic, popular third-party candidate versus a divisive Democrat with tons of baggage who just “stole” the nomination, and a 70-something Republican whose core rank-and-file can’t stand him, and who has sold his ‘maverick’ ideals for his party’s nomination.

Given that, I could see an Obama win….even as a third-party candidate.

….anyway. Something to think about.

12 Replies to “Worst-case Scenario”

  1. I’d go for that.

    If Clinton wins the next few primaries, and the two end up neck-and-neck for the nomination, and she ends up with it (without Florida and Michigan), I’ll be depressed, but won’t complain. I’ll volunteer, I’ll vote for her. I’ll be ecstatic to fight against the current regime.

    But if she gets the nomination by bsing her way into FL and MI delegates and the supers don’t go with the popular vote, I’m pretty sure I’ll have lost forever this last shred of idealism and hope that I’ve scraped together for this election. I know she has it in her to fight that dirty, but I hope she recognizes the consequences and chooses not to.

  2. I suspect that the reaction to Clinton “stealing” the nomination from Obama (which is how the story would play, even if everything she does is 100% legal) would generate enough backlash to ensure a McCain presidency.

    And I’m not sure that, even if he ran as an independent that he’d be able to beat both Clinton and McCain. It would make more sense for him to just let whoever actually won (McCain, almost certainly, even if Obama fell on his sword for the party and endorsed Clinton) mess things up for four years and then run in ’12.

  3. Gotta agree with rickj. I think an Obama third-party run would generate a lot of momentum–more than any prior third-party attempt–but it wouldn’t be enough to break the two-party system. It would splinter the vote, and while he’d draw some independent support from McCain, that vast majority of this block would come from Clinton, absolutely and 100% ensuring a McCain victory.

  4. Agreed. You’d face a lot of backlash from people saying that Obama is betraying the Dems by running as an indep, and a lot of his support would fade, I think.

    Related question: GMS, how would you feel if Clinton lost the nomination and ran as an independent?

  5. I think there would, indeed, be such a backlash–but in the end, I don’t think that’s what would torpedo a third-party Obama run.

    The simple fact is, people are trained to believe that a third-party candidate cannot win. I think a lot of people who would prefer Obama would still vote for Clinton, because they believe that doing so is the only way to stop the Republicans from keeping the White House.

    That, I think, more than any anger at Obama, is what would keep him from victory. Even as much as I want him as president, and as much as I don’t want Clinton, I have to admit it would be a tough choice even for me–to vote for the one I really want, or to vote the way I think best to block McCain.

  6. You are an excellent writer/communicator.

    Write this back-up plan, and submit it as an letter to the NYT for op-ed or other publication.
    If they don’t pub it, start mailing it around.

    This is a great chance to boost for Obama.

    You were on the AP wire, this should increase your chances of getting your letter published.

    Do you think this is doable?

  7. People are more than trained, the entire system is set up to only support two parties. And it’s not even just the Electoral College, but primaries, how districts are apportioned, everything.

    The most likely outcome would be something similar to how the Republicans replaced the Whigs in the late 1850’s. One party went away, another replaced it.

  8. No no no! If people start hearing this from Obama supporters, it’ll cause the backlash that was mentioned above. Think about the reverse:

    “Clinton vows to run as third party candidate if Obama wins nomination!”

    I know that this hypothetical action would definitely piss off a lot of Clinton supporters, wind up splitting the ticket, and leading to a McCain victory, which is not the desired outcome. :)

    Also, I think that Obama has a very good shot at winning the Democratic nomination on his own, without needing to run as a third party.

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