Prominent conservatives gathered privately in Washington to hear arguments for leaving the Republican Party if Donald Trump wins the Republican Presidential nomination. Some of the participants, including leading office-holders, wanted to provide a third party option for those who are unwilling to vote for either Trump or Hillary Clinton.
While I share the revulsion toward Trump’s demagoguery, the third party idea is a dangerous delusion. First, a conservative candidate would take votes from Trump, but very few votes from Clinton. Maybe he could grab some states from the GOP electoral college column, but with no ability to “flip” the necessary four Obama states, or even to hold all the Romney states, there’s no path to victory.
Second, if Trump suffers the crushing defeat that most observers expect, the GOP will need competent, credible conservatives to rebuild the party. Those who experiment with doomed third party adventures will lose all meaningful ability to participate in that process after the election.