Monday, June 8, 2020

Exploring the "What Ifs" What If Fearing an Embarrassing Electoral Loss, Trump Drops Out ?

It is September 2020 and shocking news has just come out of the White House.  Just 50 days before the election, President Donald Trump has announced he will bot to stand for re-election on November 3rd.  The weeks leading up to the announcement, Trump has been laying the groundwork by talking about how his campaign advisors have warned him the election is going to be "rigged" against him.  In particular, the claims are that Biden and Democrats have been out registering "illegals" and plans to have them and other Democratic-leaning voters send in multiple write in ballots.  But up until now most people thought Trump's talk was just talks.  But they were wrong.

I know some will say this scenario will never happen.  They will point to Trump's ego and say that will prevent him from walking away from the possibility of a second term.  But what would even more crush Trump's ego is to lose in an electoral landslide to Joe Biden.  When it comes to litigation, Trump always knew when to fold his cards and avoid an embarrassing defeat in court.  Not sure he would not take the same approach to politics.

The election that most analysts used to say will be close, might not be close at all.   A CNN poll this morning showed Biden ahead by 14 points nationally. Trump is trailing significantly in almost every swing state and Biden is well positioned to compete for several second tier states that Trump won fairly easily in 2016.    Of course it is still early, but  unlike most elections, poll numbers going into the 2020 election seem remarkably stable.  They slide a few points one way or another, but there is hardly any change.

Picking a new nominee would be the least of the Republicans' problem.  They could rush to hold another convention so the delegates could pick a new nominee. But the problem would be getting that nominee actually on the various state ballots.  States have laws, including strict deadlines, governing the replacement of candidates on ballots.  If you go past the deadline, the original nominee's name stays on the ballot.  Those laws, many of which date from an age when the Clerk needed several weeks to have paper ballots physically printed, would certainly be challenged.

Then you have the issue of early voting.  A few states begin their early voting 45 days before the election.  Several other states, including Indiana, begin about 30 days or four weeks out.  Litigation would have to be filed in the states not only to get the new presidential nominee on the ballot but to stay early voting until this can be done.  There is certainly no guarantee that the courts in every state would rule to allow the new nominee on the ballot.  Most likely you'd end up with Trump's name on several state ballots while the new nominee on others.  It is doubtful that the U.S. Supreme Court would have time to intervene to impose a uniform, even if the Court could find federal jurisdiction over what is traditionally a state function.

This is the first in a series in which I explore the "What Ifs" relating to the 2020 election.

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