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Could Donald Trump Come in Third?

Image: Could Donald Trump Come in Third?

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Thursday, 11 Aug 2016 10:52 AM Current | Bio | Archive

In 1992, a colorful billionaire with no political experience ran for president of the United States. Ross Perot played by his own rules, largely funded his own campaign, and, at one point, was leading the race ahead of both President George H.W. Bush and then-Gov. Bill Clinton. But his lack of message discipline and other actions discouraged his campaign staff and cost him support. When all the votes were counted, the businessman finished in third place with 19 percent of the vote.

In recent weeks, Donald Trump's campaign has stumbled badly. Could the 2016 outsider end up like Ross Perot? The odds are against it, but the odds are also against Trump moving into the White House.

To be clear, there are significant differences between the Perot effort and Trump's campaign. Most importantly, Trump has the Republican nomination while Perot ran as an independent. Also, while Trump has had many self-destructive moments in the campaign, Perot got so fed up that he actually quit for a couple of months in the middle of the campaign.

Still, recent events have raised questions about how far the GOP nominee could slide. His lack of message discipline has put him far behind Hillary Clinton and turned off potential allies. Over the past few days, several Republican Congressman and GOP Senator Susan Collins have said publicly that they will not vote for him. Collins said she has "become increasingly dismayed by his constant stream of cruel comments and his inability to admit error or apologize."

Additionally, 50 senior Republican national security officials declared their opposition saying Trump "would put at risk our nation's national security."

Another important development is that Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson may win enough support to be included in the presidential debates. If he gets on the debate stage, he will be there with the two most unpopular presidential candidates in American history.

Both Trump and Clinton are viewed unfavorably by a majority of Americans. In that context, the unknown Johnson might make a relatively good impression.

With this in mind, I asked a couple dozen political analysts and campaign veterans whether Trump could finish in third place. A few said it was absolutely possible while a couple said there was no chance at all. Most put it in the unlikely but not impossible category. And, as several noted, the unlikely cannot be dismissed in 2016. The consensus seemed to be that if Johnson shines in the debates and Trump continues to self-destruct, it could happen.

That's a pretty long shot, especially since it's not clear that Johnson will be allowed to debate. But if he gets the chance, it could put Trump in a precarious position. The two men would compete directly for the support of those who want anybody but Clinton. Johnson would also hope to peel away more support from Republican officials who are unhappy with their party's nominee.

Put it all together and the next couple of weeks are very important for the Republican nominee. If he gets his campaign back on track, Trump could still be in position for a competitive campaign with Hillary Clinton. If the campaign stumbles further, however, he could become the first major party candidate to finish in third place since William Howard Taft in 1912.

Scott Rasmussen is founder and president of the Rasmussen Media Group. He is the author of “Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System,” “In Search of Self-Governance,” and “The People’s Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the Federal Debt.” Read more reports from Scott Rasmussen — Click Here Now.

 

 

 

 

 

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ScottRasmussen
The next couple of weeks are very important for the Republican nominee. Trump could still be in position for a competitive campaign with Hillary. If the campaign stumbles further, however, he could become the first major party candidate to finish third since 1912.
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Thursday, 11 Aug 2016 10:52 AM
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