In Trump, Perot Redux?

 In Articles, Case Study
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 little known fact about former President Bill Clinton is that even though he won the Electoral College twice, and ergo the Presidency, he was never able to achieve more than 50% of the popular vote. This is a pattern that has repeated itself in other Presidential Elections. In 2000, President George W. Bush lost the popular vote, but won the Electoral College, due to what many believe was the third party influence driven by the Green Party’s Ralph Nader who some believe took votes away from Democratic Presidential candidate Al Gore. All told, Nader and his Green Party walked away with 2,883,105 votes or 2.7% of the popular vote. Four years later, George W. Bush went on to win a second term, winning both the Electoral College and popular vote in 2004.

His father was not so lucky. In 1992, George H.W. Bush lost his re-election campaign to then Arkansas Governor, Bill Clinton, who is now known as the consummate politician and two-term President with political skin like Teflon. What he is not well known for are the numbers that got him there.

In 1992, the final election numbers looked like this:

Clinton-Gore (Dem) 43.0% Popular Vote 44,909,806 Votes
Bush-Quayle (Rep) 37.4% Popular Vote 39,104,550 Votes
Perot-Stockdale (Ind) 18.9% Popular Vote 19,743,821 Votes

Again, the Independent Perot ticket, that took conservative votes away from Bush, garnered seven times more of the popular vote than Nader did in 2000.

The Perot effect was felt again during the Clinton re-election campaign in 1996 when Perot siphoned off 8.4% or 8,085,402 votes away from Republican Bob Dole. Almost three times the amount of votes that Nader won in 2000.

So what?

So, given the recent media attention swirling around Donald Trump, and the not-so-subtle hints that he may seek a third party run for the White House, the potential impact a third party candidate could have on the outcome of a Presidential Election is clear; particularly for the Republican Party. After all, Bill Clinton recently issued a statement that welcomed Trump to the race with open-arms.

Similarly, the Democratic National Committee just referred to the quixotic candidacy of Donald Trump as one that “adds some much-needed seriousness that has previously been lacking from the GOP field, and we look forward to hearing more about his ideas for the nation.”

Couple the DNC’s inability to mask their schadenfreude-based glee, with Trump’s past $100,000 donations to the Clinton Foundation, $25,000 to the Democratic Congressional Committee, and the more than $10,000 he has donated to Hillary Clinton’s past political campaigns, one is left to wonder if there is a method to the madness of Donald Trump’s candidacy – who polls well behind Clinton in any hypothetical matchup.

“To win 100 victories in, 100 battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is.” – Sun Tzu, Art of War

In the Clinton Art of Politics, this has proven a central tenet.

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