December 19, 2016 Could the Hamilton Elector strategy have worked?
Today, the Electoral College votes- and it looks like there will be no (or almost no) defections by Trump electors?
Could things have turned out differently? Maybe. My sense is that the public face of the “Hamilton Elector” movement was primarily Democrats who wanted Republican electors to support the Democratic nominee. Since electors are generally loyal Republicans chosen for their loyalty, this strategy was doomed to fail.
But what if this had been a Republican-led effort? For it to work, it seems to me that (a) the public face of the movement would have to be Republicans (preferably people more ideologically pure than Trump), (b) the movement would have had to have some organization beyond media appeals to electors’ conscience, and perhaps (c) it would have to propose alternatives more conservative than Trump.
For example, it could have gone down this way… Pundit X, enraged over Trump’s possible presidency, talks to his good friends Big Donors Y and Z (someone like the Koch Brothers, for example). Y and Z discuss getting electors to coalesce around a conservative alternative to Trump- someone like Sen. Cruz or Rubio, who many electors may have preferred to Trump. They talk to their conservative talk-radio friends, who create a grass-roots anti-Trump movement. Y and Z also try an inside game, communicating with individual electors, and perhaps reminding them that their votes in this matter will be remembered should they choose to run for office.
If the coalition gets a critical mass of support, Republicans come to believe that real conservatives should support (for example) Sen. Rubio, and give the electors an earful. If all of this happened, electors might start to defect to Rubio- perhaps enough to throw the election into the House. And if the pro-Rubio movement is popular enough, Republicans in Congress might decide that their chances of being renominated would be helped, not hurt, by defecting to Rubio- and then its bye-bye Trump!
But Democrats might decide that someone conservative enough to get electors’ support is actually worse than Trump– in fact, they might defect to Trump on their own! Trump could wind up being saved (either in the House or in the Electoral College) by Democrats.