Q&A Friday #76: Would Dobson And Company Actually Form A Third Party If Rudy Was The Candidate?

Question: “If Rudy is the GOP nominee, will the Dobson Party really follow through with running a candidate? What percentage of the vote do you think they could realistically expect to pull?” — Mike_M

Answer: My guess is that if Rudy gets the nomination, Dobson and a handful of other big name social conservatives will take a very hard look at backing a candidate for a third party run in 2008.

However, it seems likely that most big name social conservatives won’t go along with them and that they’ll have great difficulty getting any sort of candidate of note to agree to run under their banner.

But, in any case, when they run Alan Keyes or a candidate of similar quality, you’ll probably see them start out with 8%-15% of the vote — maybe a little higher, maybe a little lower. But, over time, as it becomes clear that the effort is doomed, the numbers for the Dobson Party candidate will drop.

By November of 2008, their candidate would probably be pulling somewhere in the 1%-5% range, depending on how unhappy people are with Rudy. Is that a big chunk of the electorate? No. But, is it enough to probably cost Rudy the election? Yes.

So, would we end up with a Democrat in the White House? Yes, probably. Would Dobson and anyone who went along with his effort have their reputations permanently destroyed with conservatives, even with most other social conservatives? Yes, probably.

In other words, threatening to form a third party could hurt Rudy enough to allow another candidate to beat him. But, if they actually were to go through with it, it would be a lose/lose situation for the entire conservative movement, including any social conservatives who decided to form a Third Party.

Since that’s how it’s likely to play out, is it possible that Dobson and Company would change their minds about forming a third party if Rudy actually won? Sure. In fact, it would be proof that they had more pride than brains if they didn’t, but if there’s one lesson I’ve learned the hard way since I started blogging, it’s that people don’t always do the rational thing.

PS: Even if no third party is formed, you can be sure that millions of social conservatives will stay home rather than turn out for Rudy. Don’t buy that? Well, Karl Rove worked very hard to turn out “4 million Christian conservatives” in 2004 that he thought stayed home in 2000. Now, if that many Christians decided to sit the election out in 2000 rather than vote for George (Jesus is my favorite philosopher) Bush, what makes people think they’re going to turn out for a pro-abortion, soft-on-gay-marriage adulterer like Rudy G.?

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