- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

David French will become French toast if he enters the presidential contest as a third-party candidate.

Sorry Bill Kristol, the choice reflects a desperate, last-ditch effort in a monthslong, failed campaign to recruit a GOP alternative to businessman Donald Trump. It makes absolute zero strategic sense and is bound to send Hillary Clinton to the White House.

For starters, a third-party candidate can no longer qualify to be on all 50 state ballots, including Texas. Meaning, there’s no way Mr. French can win the nomination outright, even if he was known and liked by the populous (He’s an obscure pick at best, contributing to the National Review infrequently, without even a Wikipedia page).

Add to that he needs to raise about $250 million to get on the ballots of the states he still qualifies for (while contesting the others), and then another $1 billion to run a general election campaign.

So, the strategy will be for Mr. French to focus on and win a few states in order to deny Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump the 270 electoral votes they need to secure the presidency. In this scenario, the presidential decision would then be flipped to the House of Representatives, with the House, presumably, choosing Mr. French.

It’s just absurd.

To be clear: No third-party candidate has won a state in the general election since George Wallace swept the deep south in 1968. Even then, he didn’t stop Richard Nixon from obtaining the 301 electoral votes he needed to win the Presidency. Ross Perot grabbed 19 percent of the popular vote in 1992 but didn’t win a state.

Which leads me to my next question: What states (or state) does Mr. French win?

He’s been defined as a “true conservative,” so maybe he can steal some evangelical votes in the south, but he’s certainly not going to steal swing voters in states like Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin and Iowa, where he must win.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, a third-party candidate from both the Libertarian and Green Party draw about equally from both Mrs. Clinton’s and Mr. Trump’s numbers. In the poll, Mrs. Clinton’s lead shrank from 40 percent to 38 percent with the enterance of a third-party candidate.

“At first glance, a third party could be more a Clinton problem than a Trump problem,” pollster Tim Malloy told the New York Post.

But this wouldn’t be the case with Mr. French. Both Libertarians and the Green Party are to the left of what a “true conservative” stands for.

Mr. French would likely attract the vote of the anti-Trump Republican crowd — hurting Mr. Trump — without stealing any voters from Mrs. Clinton, which he must in order for Mr. Kristol’s strategy to pan out.

The same holds true for Mitt Romney.

A recent ABC/Washington Post poll tested a hypothetical three-way race that included Mr. Trump, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Romney. In that contest, Mrs. Clinton scored 37 percent, Mr. Trump 35 percent and Mr. Romney 22 percent.

That’s nice — but what states does Mr. Romney win? National polls really mean nothing. Remember, Mr. Perot had 19 percent support, yet went nowhere. What did he do? Pull votes from George H.W. Bush.

The anti-Trump crowd had their chance at nominating a true conservative in the Republican primary. They lost. So what makes them think they’re going to win a general election (or even a state) when the electorate grows that much larger and more moderate?

On Monday’s MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Harold Ford Jr. questioned why Republicans keep thinking there’s some sort of viable third-party option.

“Do we honestly believe that Romney takes enough Democratic votes in five states, two states? I don’t see it,” said Mr. Ford, a Tennessee democratic and former member of the House of Representatives, of Mr. Romney’s chances of taking a state. “I don’t imagine that Democrats in Wisconsin are sitting around wondering, ‘Oh, am I going to vote for Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney because I don’t like Donald Trump?’ I think I’m going to vote for Hillary Clinton.”

Indeed, it’s wishful thinking — nonsensical even.

It’s time for Mr. Kristol to stop the agitation. Mr. Trump is the Republican nominee. The voters have chosen, and he’s won fairly. Either get behind, or be quiet.

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