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Let’s have a three way

A couple of weeks ago, an irate reader emailed YES! Weekly to say that I was a “moron” for suggesting that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump might run as Independents this fall. Well, I might just be half a moron because last week, Bernie’s wife Jane said that should Hillary get the Democratic nomination, the Sanders clan would support the Clinton clan. If that’s really a done deal, then I wasted my vote in last month’s primary, and I’ll be very disappointed in Bernie for abandoning his reforms in favor of party politics. Nevertheless, if Bernie loses the nomination and goes home to Vermont, there’s still one other candidate who might break ranks and run as an independent. If Donald Trump has the GOP nomination stolen from him, I still think he’ll bolt the party, and continue his quest for the White House as an independent.

In the meantime, and prior to Mrs. Sanders’ announcement, I spent some time researching what happens if we have three or four major Presidential candidates running against each other in the general election. The scenario I suggested in my earlier column has Hillary and Ted Cruz winning their party’s respective nominations, and Bernie and Donald running as independents. I then studied all of the primary results to date, and assigned winners to the remaining States. Of course, each primary had a winner from each party, so I had to extrapolate my simulated vote margins based on which party winner had the stronger showing, and how that vote might be split four ways if two independents are factored into the equation on November 8.

Using this unscientific method, I awarded Clinton the following States:

Arkansas, Delaware, D.C., Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Cruz would win: Kansas, Texas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

Trump wins: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Indiana, Nevada, and New Jersey.

And, Sanders would win: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Vermont, Wisconsin, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Washington.

That translates to roughly 178 electoral votes for Bernie, 154 for Hillary, 140 for Trump, and 66 for Cruz. Clearly, under this scenario, none of the four would amass the requisite 270 electoral votes needed to win the Presidency. If that should happen, the matter of choosing our next President would fall to the House of Representatives. And so I consulted with two Congresspersons and their staffs, and asked them to explain the process that would be involved in this hypothetical dog fight. Here, then, in a nutshell, is what would happen.

According to the 12th Amendment, the three candidates receiving the most electoral votes would advance to the next round. Using my model, that would eliminate Ted Cruz. The House of Representatives would then order all 50 States to poll their electors and select the candidate they want for President out of the remaining three.

The catch is, each State would have only one vote regardless of their population, so whichever candidate gets 26 votes, would win the Presidency. Here’s where it gets really interesting because with Ted Cruz out, then the six states who allocated their vote to him, would have to select from the remaining three candidates. Again, based on previous primary results, I think Trump would pick up Texas and Kentucky, while Bernie would grab Kansas, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. A review of the math would then give Bernie 25 State votes, Trump gets 14, and Hillary receives 11 (D.C. cannot be counted as a State in this round). At this point, the 12th Amendment isn’t clear on what happens next, so we have to assume that a second State vote would be taken and, in the interim, electors in one of Trump’s States would be persuaded to change their vote. If Trump persuaded all 12 of his States to switch to Hillary, she still wouldn’t have the requisite 26 votes (States) to win. But if just one Trump State switched to Sanders, then Bernie’s total would be 26, and he would win the White House. Trump loves to brag about his importance and influence, so that leads me to believe he would swing one or all of his States over to Bernie.

I know this scenario is convoluted, but it would actually be a more democratic way of selecting a President than what we usually settle for, i.e., larger States having more say than smaller States, the imperial Electoral College overriding popular vote totals, and, in some instances, the Supreme Court overruling everyone. So here’s hoping we all get to have a 3-way this fall, or maybe even a 4-way. It would be kinky, but fun. !

JIM LONGWORTH is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).

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