After Donald Trump swept four of Tuesday’s five state primaries, party bigwigs are set to meet on Thursday to lay out a plan to derail the frontrunner’s path to the nomination.
According to Politico, the meeting was organized by former Bush administration official Bill Wichterman, conservative activist Erick Erickson, and Bob Fischer, a prominent GOP fundraiser and bundler.
Aside from coordinating efforts to prevent Trump’s nomination, conservative activists and party leaders will also mull an option that was unthinkable just half a year ago: breaking with the Republican Party and launching an independent, third party bid for the White House.
The idea of a third party conservative bid was first seriously broached in February when Republican donors called for research into the feasibility of such a scheme.
A memo produced by the conservative polling firm Data Targeting in late February was publicized by Politico, revealing research results indicating that “it is possible to mount an independent candidacy, but [it] will require immediate action”.
According to exit polls from Tuesday’s vote in critical battleground states, a third party run may enjoy wide backing among Republican voters.
A total of 39% of GOP voters in Florida, Illinoi, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio said that they would seriously consider backing a third party if Trump became the nominee. And a full 27% told pollsters that they would never vote for Trump under any circumstances, even if he won the nomination.
While the Republican Party is edging closer to a split, Democratic voters are also expressing frustration with frontrunner Hillary Clinton. According to last week’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 33% of Sanders supporters would never vote for Clinton in a general election.
In addition, Clinton’s poor performance among working class whites in the Rust Belt indicates serious problems for her among that key demographic group in a head-to-head election with Trump. Trump has performed well among blue collar whites and could potentially pull many traditionally Democratic voters away from Clinton in general election, particularly in the Midwest.