As quixotic as it is, I have to admire Evan McMullin’s plan to win the presidency. The primary reason I find it admirable is that, unlike the other non-major party candidates, McMullin has a strategy. He quite openly states that his plan is to throw the election to the House of Representatives and he’s hoping, thanks to the arcane rules by which the election will be settled in that circumstance, that he would garner the votes of the Republican delegations over Trump and, thus, win the presidency.
If Gary Johnson pursued the same strategy — focus his efforts on specific states to win enough Electoral Votes to throw the election to the House, and then win there — he’d stand a very good chance of being elected; Johnson fits quite confortably with the Republican tradition, as an encounter with the Robert Taft Memorial in Washington reminded me over the weekend, and House Republicans would find him far easier to work with than Trump (as Johnson would be on the same page as they are on at least 90% of things, most notably repealing the New Deal and the social state). Even if she won a landslide in the popular vote, given the make-up of the House, there’s zero chance of Clinton being elected if the election went to the House, where each state’s delegation receives a single vote, no matter who the three candidates the House has to choose from are.
While I think there would be perception issues if McMullin succeeded in his quixotic quest — observers both inside and outside the United States would undoubtedly view the circumstance in which a third, fourth, or fifth place victor assumed the presidency as something close to a third world coup — occupying the Oval Office would provide its own legitimacy, as George Bush found in 2001 when he assuming the presidency after losing the popular vote.
McMullin is, as they say, “in it to win it,” and he has a plan that, if everything goes right, would achieve it. Oh, it’s quixotic as all get out, but I have to admire that. His fellow minor-party candidates, like Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, could learn something from him.