Mitt Romney drops “Never Trump” run as an Independent after the Republican party is making peace with the GOP nominee for president, proving once again that Donald Trump appears to be unstoppable.
There are rumors that Trump might make the two-time Republican presidential candidate his running mate, naming him on the vice presidential ticket, TheWrap reports. All of this comes as Romney himself is being considered as a backup candidate if the group cannot convince another, like Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, to jump in.
As Mitt Romney dumps his “Never Trump” campaign, he’s leaving the door open. If Romney (or another right-leaning third-party candidate) does end up running, his impact is not a clear win for the “Never Trump” movement.
Among likely voters Clinton comes out on top against Romney and Trump, but the overall margin moves only slightly, as both she and Trump lose supporters to Romney. Clinton draws 37 percent of the vote to Trump’s 33, while Romney attracts 21 percent of voters - a very respectable number for a candidate not even in the race.
Clinton’s 4-point margin in this scenario is wider than her scant 2-point edge when running head-to-head against her fellow New Yorker. But Romney’s presence does not help her as much as might be expected. This is because she also loses a healthy chunk of voters to Romney; 15 percent of Clinton voters would defect to Romney, compared with 22 percent of Trump’s camp, Politico reported.
If the intention is to act as a spoiler, the “Never Trump” crowd would prefer to see a more one-sided effect, where Romney’s presence has a more disproportionately negative impact on Trump. But would-be Romney supporters are about equal in their dislike and distrust of Clinton and Trump. As a result, adding Romney to the mix is closer to a wash than might be expected.
One key reason for this is that Clinton is effectively serving as the anti-Trump candidate already, and not just for Democrats. Republicans and right-leaning independents turned off by Trump also say they would support Clinton. She pulls 18 percent of Republican women when matched up against Trump, and 11 percent of Republican men.
These numbers shrink considerably when Romney is introduced as an alternative. Looking at the demographics of who shifts from Clinton to Romney, 84 percent of Clinton’s lost voters are either registered Republicans or independents.
Yes, Trump loses more. In fact, his losses among Republican women are huge; he goes from drawing 67 percent when competing just against Clinton to just 47 percent in a three-way race. But his overall losses are not much larger than Clinton’s, and the balance is close enough to leave the question open whether a third-party bid would hurt Trump or Clinton more.
The ultimate question as Mitt Romney dumps his “Never Trump” team is which group is bigger: Clinton’s crossover anti-Trump vote, or the voting reluctantly supporting Trump now but looking for an alternative. Right now, reluctant Trump voters make up a bigger slice of the electorate than Clinton’s crossovers in the country.
CNN said this may not last, and while it seems Mitt Romney dropped his “Never Trump” team, someone could make the case elsewhere. If Clinton were a strong and popular nominee, dividing the Republican side would almost surely help her. But Clinton is relying somewhat on tentative support from Republicans opposed to Trump. If Romney enters and takes those Republican votes from her, the picture becomes a bit murkier.