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Why A Four-Way Presidential Race Is Not As Crazy As You Think

by Mac Vanandel, published

With the summer fast approaching, and as establishment leaders in both parties frantically try to simmer the flames of the primary chaos, there is still a chance that this election could become even more unconventional than it already is.

At the moment both parties are in sticky situations as the establishment wing of the parties are either completely underwater or desperately treading water. With both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio out of the race, and with Gov. John Kasich having just 147 delegates total, Donald Trump is a top of the Republican field as the convention looms.

On the Democratic side, despite Hillary Clinton's big lead early on, and her big win on Tuesday night in New York, populist challenger Bernie Sanders has still won 7 of the last 9 contests and is just 277 pledged delegates behind Clinton. Given that there remain over 1,000 delegates up for grabs, it's entirely possible for Sanders to pull it out with some big wins and key upsets.

For Sanders supporters, the biggest obstacle the senator from Vermont faces are the 712 unpledged superdelegates. As of right now, Hillary Clinton currently has 502 superdelegates, while Bernie Sanders has just 38. As was pointed out on IVN last month, "it takes 2,383 delegates to win the Democratic nomination. But one third of that number is actually made up of superdelegates. According to the New Republic, superdelegates were put in place to stop grassroots populist candidates from winning the nomination."

Because these superdelegates are not elected by anyone, they are free to support the candidate of their choice despite popular vote results.

Recently, Kansas City mayor Sly James told Bloomberg that he would support Hillary Clinton no matter what. Last month former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, voiced a similar opinion, stating that because super delegates are not elected by anyone, they do not "represent the people" and he will do whatever he thinks is right.

Dean's unwavering support of Hillary despite Sanders winning the state with over 80% of the vote demonstrates the corruption in the Democratic Party primary process. When factoring in superdelegates, Clinton's lead goes from 277 to 741.

The nature of the superdelegate system is almost a kind of panic button for the party that once used effectively resets the game, allowing the establishment candidate to overcome a grassroots challenger such as Sanders.

Last week it was revealed that the DNC kept the fact that Sanders had won one more key delegate than previously reported from his campaign, yet they let Clinton's campaign know, according to the Denver Post.

On the Republican side, it's no secret that the GOP establishment is not a fan of Donald Trump. Back in early March, reports emerged of a secret meeting among top Republicans and tech CEOs about stopping Trump. In the past few weeks, there has been much buzz among establishment Republicans of a brokered convention.

In the event that on the first ballot at the GOP convention no candidate comes away with the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination, most delegates would then become unbound and free to support any candidate on the second ballot, running or not.

At the moment, the Republican establishment has been getting behind Cruz, in an effort to block Trump from reaching 1,237 delegates. Recently, Trump has criticized the delegate process in Colorado and Wyoming for selecting delegates at local conventions rather than allotting them via voter elections.

Once the convention is underway in Cleveland, rules committee members such as Curly Haugland have reminded us that they can change the rules on the floor to prevent Trump from getting the nomination.

"The media is trying to convince us, the cable networks are trying to convince us that it's based on the primary vote and that's a whole different animal. The primary votes are not solid" Haugland told the Washington Examiner.

As it stands, following Tuesday night's big win in New York, Donald Trump is now the only candidate who can get to 1,237 before the convention. A contested convention is now the only chance establishment Republicans have to stump Trump.

Both parties are working very hard to secure the nomination for an establishment candidate. If Sanders continues the momentum and comes within 100 delegates of Clinton, or even wins the popular vote, but loses the nomination because of superdelegates, he and his supporters would be able to claim that the nomination was stolen.

If Trump heads into the Republican convention with more delegates and more votes, but ends up losing on a second ballot, he and his supporters would be able to claim that the nomination was stolen. Mr. Trump has always left open the idea of running as an independent, refusing to rule out the idea in the first Republican debate in August.

When asked about an independent run earlier this month on Fox News Sunday, Trump responded, "We are going to have to see how I was treated. I’m going to have to see how I was treated. Very simple … It’s not a question of win or lose, it’s a question of treatment. I want to be treated fair."

Thus it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility that Trump would run as an independent if he were 'robbed' of the nomination at the convention. Following such a maneuver, it is not beyond reality that Sanders -- who has gained such a huge following and racked up so many votes -- would not return to his roots and run as an independent, resulting in a four way race.

Sanders stated recently that the main reason he ran as a Democrat in the first place was for media coverage. If he truly felt wronged by the DNC, it's completely realistic that he would simply go independent and continue.

As both parties go into self preservation mode to seal the nomination for Clinton and block the nomination from Trump, the idea of a four way race in the fall is entirely possible and would certainly be the most unconventional and interesting election in recent history.

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