The Corner

Politics & Policy

A Boon For The McMullin Scenario?

So if you asked me yesterday what I thought the chances were of Evan McMullin would end up being the next president, I would have said somewhere between .0001 and .01 percent. I think as of right now the odds are closer to between .1 and 1. 

I still think most gamblers would bet that Hillary wins, despite today’s bombshell. But who knows? The polls were already tightening, more news keeps coming out, and, as I note below, Hillary doesn’t thrive in the limelight. Certainly, it’s not unreasonable to think this makes it more likely she doesn’t win in the landslide we saw coming last week. Or maybe, just maybe she falls just enough and Trump rises just enough that neither gets to 270, particularly after McMullin takes Utah off the map. 

As I explained in my column earlier this week, that’s the only remotely plausible way McMullin can be the next president. If the election ends without either candidate getting to the 270 votes necessary to win (and if the electors don’t go rogue), it goes to the House. The GOP will probably still control the House but with fewer seats. Each state votes as a delegation, which means you just need a majority of congressmen from each state to go the right way. And then, vanilla logic kicks in. As I explained in my column:

Here, the vanilla rule might apply. Vanilla is one of the most popular flavors in America not because it’s everyone’s favorite, but because it is the least objectionable to the greatest number of people. There are probably no Democrats who wouldn’t prefer McMullin to Trump. There are almost certainly no Republicans who wouldn’t prefer McMullin to Clinton. Picking the least objectionable option is often the essence of statesmanship. If 26 state delegations pick the least-bad option, McMullin becomes the first Mormon president. 


If every Republican delegation refuses to pick Clinton and every Democratic delegation refuses to pick Trump, then all that’s left is McMullin, the most acceptable alternative to the worst case scenario for both sides. Again it’s super, duper, looper, unlikely. But (as I write in today’s G-File) unlikely crap keeps happening. I call to your attention this October 13 item from

It would take a fascinating scenario — in which much of the technical detail of how we select presidents comes into play — for McMullin to be sworn in as the 45th president, but the chances of its happening are slim, not none. Indeed, his chances of at least making things very interesting may be as high as 1 to 3 percent — about the same as the odds of the Cubs’ coming back to beat the Giants on Monday.

I’m no Baseball Crank, but I’m pretty sure the Cubs are in the World Series. 

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, will be released on April 24.

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