The Corner

Politics & Policy

Re: The Torricelli Solution

Andy has a very interesting piece on the “Torricelli solution.” It has a vaguely Ludlumesque sound to it (a la: The Scarlatti Inheritance, The Osterman Weekend,  The Rheineman Exchange and of course, The Torricelli Solution).

Here’s how Andy describes the original Torricelli solution:

In October 2002, seeking reelection while beset by an indefensible corruption investigation, Senator Robert Torricelli was badly trailing his Republican rival, Doug Forrester, as the race came down to the wire — no small thing in the blue Garden State. At the eleventh hour (actually, more like after the twelfth hour), Democrats persuaded “the Torch” to step aside. Into his place they slid 78-year-old Frank Lautenberg, a reliably partisan former senator.

The lateness of the switcheroo denied Republicans a meaningful opportunity to campaign against Lautenberg, in violation of state election laws. But New Jersey’s solidly Democratic judiciary predictably looked the other way. Overnight, the polls flipped and Lautenberg won going away.


What if, Andy asks, the Democrats do the same thing with Hillary?

I agree that if an indictment came down well after the convention, one could see the Democrats trying to swap out Hillary for Joe Biden or some other establishment choice. Though I think there’s almost nothing you can say to a Clinton that would get them to put their party’s interests above their own self-interest.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say this happened before the convention. It’s hard to see how the Democrats could do it without throwing the Sandersnistas into open revolt. Sanders would rightly point to his huge support in the primaries compared to some establishment stiff parachuted in after the votes are cast. 

I know everyone thought I was hitting the sauce when I said last week that we could be seeing a four-way race (five-way if you include the libertarian ticket) before all is said and done. But is it really so crazy to believe that if Clinton wins the real primary but loses the FBI primary that Sanders would take his marbles and play Ralph Nader circa 2000? If that happens, then suddenly it’s a whole new ballgame. Here’s how I put it last week:

One might assume that the obvious effect of a Sanders independent bid would be a Trump victory in November. Indeed, Trump, with his trademark subtlety, has encouraged Sanders to run as an independent for the obvious reason that doing so would doom Clinton’s candidacy.

But in this season where the standard playbook is as outdated as the instruction manual for a Commodore 64 computer, Sanders’s third-party bid could well encourage a fourth-party bid from an authentic conservative, such as Romney or Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse. And in a four-way race (or five-way, if you include the Libertarian party), all bets are off. Theoretically, a winning share of the popular vote in a four-way race could be 26 percent. In a five-way race, 21 percent (which is where Romney is polling right now). States that haven’t been competitive in decades would suddenly become battlegrounds. Of course, if no one gets a majority in the Electoral College, the decision goes to the House, for even more exciting postseason drama.



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