While the polarizing figure of Donald Trump is causing a ruckus with his highly controversial comments, the businessman turned politician is also creating a stir within the Republican Party. Trump is once again threatening the GOP with the possibility of making an Independent run.
The Republican frontrunner has been heavily criticized for his extremely questionable proposal of banning all Muslims from entering America. This has greatly alarmed Republicans who are worried that Trump is going to leave a permanent stain on the reputation of their party.
Trump made the recent threat to go Independent despite the fact that he signed an agreement promising not to run as an Independent. He also vowed to support the party’s nominee in the event that he doesn’t win the Republican candidacy. But now, Trump is starting to backtrack on his commitments.
Trump said in an interview, “If they don't treat me with a certain amount of decorum and respect, if they don't treat me as the frontrunner, if the playing field is not level, then certainly all options are open.”
In the unlikely event that Trump would decide to make a third party run, Trump would have a hard time getting on the ballot in every state. Trump would have to act fast, as the deadline for some states to accept Independent candidates is next spring.
Political experts say that an Independent campaign for Trump would have to begin by early March at the latest for him to have any realistic shot. Any later than that and Trump would essentially be wasting his time.
Trump could also seek the nomination of an existing minor political party, such as the Libertarian Party. However, there isn’t really a match for the unique campaign that Trump has been running.
Additionally, Trump would have to dig deeper into his fat wallet to make a viable third party run. He would likely spend tens of millions of dollars merely getting on the ballot. Obviously, this would be no problem for the wealthy man, but it’s unknown if he would want to shell out that kind of money. Trump has only spent about $2 million of his own money so far in the current campaign, running only radio ads. Though to be fair, it seems like the media is doing the advertising for him.
Meanwhile, a third party run by Trump would be disastrous for the Republican Party. With Trump outperforming every GOP candidate by a large margin, it is very likely that he would beat them in the final election as well. Even if Trump can’t top the Democrat nominee, he has already shown that he can probably triumph over any Republican candidate. Thus, a third party Trump run could very well delegate the Republicans to third place, making them the laughing stock of Democrats.
There is a historic precedent for a candidate to switch midway through the primary. In 1980, John Anderson started his candidacy as a Republican. In April of that year, he switched to an Independent, and was ultimately able to get on the ballot in all 50 states.
Still, it’s ultimately unlikely that Trump would make such a move. Running as a third party candidate would offer numerous disadvantages to Trump. He would have to spend more money and work his tail off to just get on the ballot in the first place. Plus, the Republican Party is essentially at the mercy of Trump. He knows that they will most likely do anything to keep him aboard, even if they are still shaking their heads at many of his outrageous statements.