So we get to see some remarkable insights into the two campaigns. (obviously this is again a blog article about the US election, not about digital/mobile/tech). Hillary had her worst days this year, from the middle of last week when the Inspector General of the State Department found she had broken rules about emails and was at fault. For a pro campaign and very seasoned veteran politician, Hillary's campaign had a disastrous moment (every campaign has some of those) and it was clearly her worst moment of the year so far (don't fall for any of the Bernie 'moments' her victory was never in doubt so they were never that bad for her). And like a pro in a pro campaign, she went immediately onto the talk shows, put out as much of the fires as possible, then went to lay down low, riding out the rest of the news cycle. Her best hope is for other news stories to overtake this bad news email story, and that it won't grow to be any bigger than it now is.
TRUMP EPIC FAIL CAMPAIGN
The rival to her campaign should play this like a pro. If the opponent is in trouble, get out of the way. Get out of the news cycle. Don't give the news any possible story now, to compete with the big splash that your rival is in trouble. The smart play by Trump was to stay away from everything. Don't even allow interviews of YOU, let your surrogates handle the needling of Hillary about her emails. Stay away from the press, don't give them any chance to talk about anything relating to you. No, that is too much to ask of Trump. He had to jump in, with NEW silly stupid idiotic damaging stunts to a) draw attention away from Hillary's emails; b) bring up problems you've had in the past; c) bring up new problems for you; d) prepare the press to keep your problems in the spotlight into the near future as well.
Trump is massively behind Hillary. Before Trump clinched his nomination (the last time polls were reporting fairly the race) he was behind by close to 10 points. RCP had Trump behind by about 7 points. Then when Trump clinched (or more accurately, his rivals both conceded defeat) then every time that nominee gets a polling bump. It does not signal that the race has become suddely tight. Hillary will get the same bounce after June 7, when she has clinched. The real race is about a 7 point race which is more than what Obama beat Romney in 2012 and nearly what Obama beat McCain in 2008. Thats the reality right now, except some idiots are falling for the one-sided polling anomaly which happens EVERY election when one side clinches before the other. And it always returns to approximately the same it was, when the other side also clinches. So the reality is, that Trump is losing badly right now. It is FAR worse than the national poll, because in the in-state polling, Trump is behind in every state that Obama won in 2012 plus he is behind also in North Carolina (which Obama lost in 2012 but won in 2008) and he is behind in Arizona (which Obama lost both in 2008 and 2012). Trump is not ahead in the in-state polls of ANY state that voted for Obama in 2008. So Hillary is currently AHEAD of where Obama was in 2012 and by a VERY healthy lead indeed. What Trump needs to do, is to work hard - and CAPITALIZE on the rare occasions where Hillary's campaign is in trouble or making mistakes.
What was Trump doing last week? He wasn't done fighting with Republicans!!! He posted a silly video attacking his past rivals John Kasich and Ted Cruz. Why. What possible good does that serve Trump? It angers supporters of Cruz and Kasich - Republicans - who must be convinced to come vote for Trump. He HAS to stop attacking other Republicans. There is absolutely no way Trump can possibly convert 1-to-1 lost Republicans out of his tirades, to new Independent (or Democrat) voters, or somehow that 'silent majority' who isn't voting. He may attract SOME with this silly strategy but he is alienating many more. Its stupid. Plain and simple. Its stupid. But he wasn't done. Then he went and attacked New Mexico's sitting popular Republican Governor, Susana Martinez. Trump felt slighted that she would not come and join him at his rally. So now Trump not only starts a new feud with a sitting Governor of a battleground state, he is also upsetting all those demographics she represents - she is young, she is a woman, she is a Latina. This is sheer madness, why on earth would Trump go do this? He has to work now EVEN harder, to try to convince youth, women and Hispanic voters that no, he doesn't hate them all. By the way, the smart play - even if Trump was not actually considering her for his VP slot, would be to suggest she is the type of person he wants. But instead, Trump is fighting with her. A new fight, started by Trump, that was now on the air about the same time as the Hillary email news broke.
TRUMP STARTS NEW FIRES
So while the newsmedia SHOULD be devoting all their time on Hillary's troubles because they can't find Trump, he has gone into hiding, instead, Trump feeds them one story the more bizarre after the other. He goes to California (why on earth is he doing an event in California? California will never vote for a Republican, its a safely blue state. This is totally wasted effort). In California he holds a big rally - with farmers !! Why farmers? Farmers are about the most reliable 'employment' class for Republicans this side of wall street bankers. Farmers VERY steadily vote Republican and the only time you bother with courting the farming vote is the PRIMARIES when you need to win say a state like Iowa. Trump is behaving still as if it was the primaries. When there still was a race, and Cruz was fighting to try to win California, then it made still sense for Trump to schedule events there. Not now. Now he should be in Ohio, Virginia, Colorado or Florida. A battleground state, not in California. This is time he will never get back.
What did he do in Califronia. Well, he managed to create more problems for himself, both now and into the future. First, at this event, he made that stupid claim that there is no drought in California. Great way to get yourself in the media - for all the wrong reasons - again the press can have a field day quoting all the drought specialists who say yes, actually 75% of California is in a drought. The Drought has been going on for years. It is severe in more than half of the state. So next, Trump of course suggests that he can fix it, there is some little fish which is now the 'fault' of the water shortage (another debunked myth and conspiracy theory). And what of the farmers? If Trump suggests he as President can get the water to the farmers - that means taking water from neighboring states - Nevada, Utah, Oregon and Arizona. So 'pandering' to California farmers at their event will NEVER win Trump the state of California - BUT the Democrats in neighboring states can now use Trump as the danger, that if he is President, he will come and steal YOUR water, to give to his pals the California farmers. Is Arizona in play? Yes. Is Nevada a battleground state, of course it is. And polling from safely-red very consevative Utah - which NEVER votes for Democrats - says Hillary is tied in Utah. (Oregon is safely blue for Democrats anyway). So one stupid comment on a LOCAL issue where the US President has no say anyway - now does not help Trump in any way but it will be run in neighboring states against him and be used to force local Republican politicians to side against Trump (because nobody is going to suggest giving THEIR water to go to California's farmers, these would be local farmers in Nevada, Arizona, Utah etc who would then have to give up THEIR water). And this means, Hillary's nasty email story - a story which is well-worn and tired - is now competing with a Trump story about the weirdness - doesn't Trump KNOW what everybody else has known for YEARS that there is a massive drought in California, so bad Governor Jerry Brown had to take extreme means of water rationing statewide in response... This is an undisciplined campaign.
But while Trump was in California laying more mines into the minefield he has to later walk through - he also decided to pick a fight with a judge who is presiding over his Trump University case. Trump feels he can try to bully a judge by going public about his case. Good luck with that, schmuck. His attorneys had requested that various statements and documents about Trump University would be sealed, where some press had requested to see them. Now the judge (of course) ruled to unseal those documents. Maybe the judge would have decided so anyway. But first, by Trump making a public ruckus about it (and essentially threatening the judge) he of course made it very easy for the judge to rule against Trump. But secondly - far more damagingly - now the MEDIA are FAR MORE HUNGRY to study those documents. Trump not only drew attention to his Trump University lawsuit - while Hillary has her worst moment of this year - Trump ALSO guaranteed the Trump University 'sealed documents' will receive EXTRA scrutiny in the coming days. Trump knows this is all bad news, he has been trying to get the court case dismissed or postponed. Incidentally, Trump says regularly that the judge should recuse himself but Trump's attorneys have not made that motion in Court. So his LAWYERS know its not a valid case - but the more Trump pushes this point in the media, the more he angers the judge. Thats totally the wrong move. But Trump is not guided by a professional campaign manager (in charge) and whatever Manafort manages to do, is peripheral at best (and apparently there is a big internal war going on between Manafort and Lewandowski). So maybe California was an isolated case?
Sunday. Trump is in Washington DC (oh, yes, that famous 'battleground state' which votes 90% Democratic. THE single MOST DEMOCRATIC voting region in the nation. For Mr Outsider the dumbest thing to do, is to hold a campaign rally in DC. But hey, who am I to advise the Trumpster. So what was this about? He held a huge event at the State Department with a bunch of email specialists perhaps? No. Its a biker event (Harley Davidson type bikers) for veterans. Now. Bikers. White MEN very very racist, often Nazis, who will vote for Trump no matter what happens. These are in terms of activity/hobby probably the single most dedicated Trump supporters, even more so than the gun lobby. Why on earth is Trump at a biker rally? Oh, its probably that same clown political advisor he took in, who used to work on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's campaign. Walker had an unhealthy obsession with Harley Davidson motorbikes. Ok, we get the connection. Except this is the GENERAL election now. You have WON the Harley rider vote, MONTHS ago. That is the LAST place you should be wasting you time campaigning, at a Biker rally, in Washington DC. But its biker-veterans. So first, this of COURSE brings up the bad press about Trump and veterans in this election cycle. So now there is PLENTY of reason to revisit what stupid stuff Trump said about John McCain. Then there is MORE reason to dig into the missing million dollars that Trump promised he'd pay out of his own pocket to veterans. And the gossip about how much he overpromised and underdelivered with his publicity stunt veterans event earlier this year. All this eats time away from the bad news coverage of Hillary's email problems. Meanwhile, did Trump now put this issue to rest. No. He said that on TUESDAY he will release the list of what veterans groups received the millions he has raised. On Tuesday? So the story will linger on for three days now, and run into four at the least, before this story is extinguished from the news cycle. Trump has jumped upon the worst news story his rival has had, and piled one Trump negative story after another, all the while setting up even MORE negative coverage - not of Hlilary - but more bad stuff about Trump in the coming days. How mad is this.
Oh, and on veterans? His supporter Bob Dole now has said, Dole agrees with McCain, Trump should apologize to the veterans. And Lewandowski is on record now saying, Trump won't apologize. Will the media love now digging into this, what will Dole say about that, what will McCain say, and how will Trump react himself. This is an incredibly undisciplined and unfocused campaign, abandoning blatantly obvious opportunities as they (rarely) come.
On Tuesday of next week, Hillary will clinch her nomination (she's only 94 delegates shy of the nomination and June 7 awards nearly 700. She only needs to win about 15% of the delegates to clinch. She is ahead in most polling in most of the states that vote that day). This week is literally the last week when Hillary is this vulnerable - when Bernie is still in the race and thus Trump's attacks would have maximum effect. Yet in the 12 days left between the day the e-mail story broke, Trump has wasted - no, not wasted, destroyed - the news cycle for 4 days and has set the newsmedia ready to put plenty more of Trump BAD news into the remaining days. This is totally bizarre in terms of campaigning. Any professional campaign manager would have advised Trump to behave to the best interest of WINNING in November. But Trump doesn't listen to experts, because Trump likes to talk to himself instead, as he said. And once again, we see he not only hurt himself with these steps, he also did not do what he NEEDS to do (fight in battleground states where he is BEHIND) and he also gave Hillary much-needed cover so the email story won't get much attention.
At some point between now and November, Trump will accept a profesional campaign manager's 'full control' of his message and campaign appearance schedule. That is not yet what Manafort has now. Clearly. It is madness to waste one day of Trump in California, and another day in DC, those states will NEVER vote for him. Its madness to speak at events for farmers and bikers - they will always vote for him. Its utter madness to pick a fight with the judge who can decide to make the Trump University scandal court papers public; and its madness to draw attention to his troubles with veterans. Hillary's team must be thanking the stars for Trump. How much Trump has taken the pain off their worst day of the year and demolished that story from the news cycle.
When Trump starts to behave rationally, he can do a lot better than he is doing now, but so much damage is done already, he can never recover to even footing with Hillary, not even close. But now, he is only making the November loss worse for himself. There are only 161 days left to Election Day. Trump has actually wasted 2 of those days not doing what he HAS to do, campaign in the battleground states (did I mention, Trump is BEHIND in all of the states that Obama won in 2016, Trump cannot win unless he flips half a dozen of those states in 2016). 2 days wasted means one percent of his remaining time was thrown away. That will never come back. No professional campaign manager lets a candidate do this level of damage to himself.
Meanwhile on the other side of the fence. If you're in trouble, who can you call? Ghostbusters? Wouldn't it be nice, if you are in trouble, that you could just call your buddy, the current President of the USA, who happens to be on an international trip - and ask HIM to jump into the story and help deflect the bad news away from you, by attacking your opponent. Yeah. I betcha that was coordinated, the Obama attack from Japan that hit Trump saying that international leaders are 'Rattled' by Trump. Did you see the timing? US sitting Presidents almost never talk domestic politics while abroad. Obama however, can't WAIT to get to campaigning with Hillary against Trump. And he has of course waited, patiently, letting the Hillary campaign decide how to utilize the largest bully pulpit on the planet. Now when Hillary asked (or perhaps Obama sensed it and offered) this was perfect timing to bring Obama into the story, to take some of the heat away from Hillary. Smart play by team Democrats, whoever actually initiated that idea.
Obama will be a formidable surrogate for Hillary, likely more powerful than husband Bill. And he will love doing it, spending most of his energy attacking Trump and the sitting Republicans of Congress. Trump's response? Why didn't Obama accuse his Japanese hosts about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Yeah, thats REALLY smart diplomacy again, Mr 'I talk to myself'. Japan killed 2,400 Americans on the attack on Pearl Harbor (mostly military but also plenty civilians). The USA killed 140,000 in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima (all civilians). I think this is quite the wrong time for the US President to mention Pearl Harbor but obviously Mr 'I know great words' would do a fabulous job in international diplomacy haha. Its exactly moronic statements like that, which has those foreign leaders 'rattled' by Trump.
So yeah. Trump is a remarkably flawed human being. Fine. We have however, learned again new stuff about him. Clearly, Trump is not listening to Manafort at least fully. But Politico now reported that the in-fighting in the Trump campaign has revealed that Trump is the kind of boss whose mind goes by whoever talked to him last. Like a child. So that bodes well for his run haha. Any advice he gets, is forgotten the moment he meets the next advisor or campaign staffer or friend or colleague or just random supporter at a farmer event or biker rally. This is why Lewandowski has gotten back into favor. Manafort was trying to run a campaign - that means a TON of management work which does not involve - and should not involve - the candidate. But Lewandowski was relegated to be the 'front man' on events - meaning he is sitting in the limo and at the hotel and on the jet with Trump every day. And Lewandowski thus gets in that vital last word. Which would be good news for Trump if Lewandowski was even marginally proficient as a national campaign manager for the general election except clearly he is not. So we have issues like Trump firing the first person that Manafort hired (a pro). Where Trump's team is MASSIVELY understaffed AND with vacancies galore - the last thing they need is to REHIRE more of people that are now being fired !! Plus it makes it EVEN harder for Manafort to get ANY competent professionals to sign up - Trump may well embarrass those too, and fire them two weeks after Manafort has hired them.. Oh, and press relations. The Trump campaign still doesn't have anyone as Press Secretary. Nobody is managing his press or media. That buffoon Hope Hicks is clowning around on various TV shows as his 'spokesperson' while the vital job of press secretary is still not even filled.
A 'normal' Presidential campaign will have something in very rough terms of one quarter of a million man-days of campaign work that will be done in the approximately one year that the campaign exists. Its a LOT of work. Trump's team has done perhaps one tenth of what should have been done up to now, and needs to be at full staffing to do MOST of what needs to be done in the remaining time. Trump will most definitely fall short of what is considered a normal major campaign run, by something like 20% at least, maybe even more. Meanwhile Hillary's campaign has already worked more man-days than ANY campaign in history (and not because Bernie gave her any real resistance, most of her campaign effort has been aimed at November). But conservatively estimating, the Hillary 2016 campaign will probably complete half a million man-days of campaign work. Her campaign will outwork Trump's by a factor of about 3. Who wins? If the race were truly tied, and one side puts in 3 times more work - then that side most definitely wins. Except the race is NOT tied, not even close. Hillary is far ahead, and yet, her team is putting in MASSIVE amounts of more work than Trump's side is. And we are seeing the effects. She is ahead in EVERY single state that Obama won in 2012 plus two that Obama lost (and very close to tied in half a dozen more states - including very very VERY reliably Republican states like Utah and Mississippi).
So then we learn about Trump's delusion. He wants to run in New York. Now, its fully understandable, that for a man with Trump's ego, he wants to win his home state. He put a lot of effort to win the primary for New York (even though he was safely ahead in all polling). But New York is a safe Democratic state. It voted for Obama by 28 points in 2012, by 26 points in 2008 and even in 2004 where John Kerry lost to sitting President W Bush, New York voted for the Democrat by 18 points. There is NO hope for a Republican to win in New York state. It is the fourth most blue state in the union. There is no chance, zero, zip, zilch, none for ANY generic Republican to win New York. Being a New Yorker does not help Trump because so too is Hillary Clinton except she was their Senator winning twice, while Trump is disliked even in his home state. The Republican voter base is in rural New York state, ie 'upstate' where Hillary was their Senator, and they dislike Manattan-dwellers and big city folk (like Trump). New York state is one of the most diverse states in the union, only 71% was white voters last time (this is bad for Trump) with both a high black and high Hispanic minority. He can't win that state. The Real Clear Polling average for New York state head-to-head has Hillary up by 22 points. This is an utterly hopeless mission. But Trump wants to hire staff to fight for New York. Yes, go ahead Mr 'I am so smart, I went to Wharton'. He is behind in EVERY actual battleground state, and his campaign is massively understaffed with open vacancies not filled. But Trump knows better, he wants to waste hiring and staffing and funding and campaigning - to try to win in New York. Lovely. I can't wait to see how long that lasts and how much of his total effort went into that bottomless pit. New York state is one of the most expensive states to run in, haha, go ahead. Will be a delight to see all that effort wasted.
A billionaire tends to hear what he wants to hear (he fires those who say things he doesn't want to hear). So if Trump says - I want to fight for New York, he probably will get that, no matter how much his whole campaign staff will be aghast. So if its a dozen states, and some of them are not that expensive to run in - New Hamspshire, Iowa, Wisconsin - if the Trump campaign puts a real effort into New York state, it would deplete at least 10% of their total resources (on a total waste on a race he cannot literally cannot win). Lets see if someone can talk sense into the man who is so smart or will he talk to himself instead. But again consider the rest of the party - they see a total utter comprehensive train-wreck of a campaign and a candidate who is utterly out of control. The sensible thing is to run away as fast as you can - and like Susana Martinez - refuse to be seen with this doofus. Now what about all those politicians who are in TROUBLE in those battleground states - but who HAVE endorsed Trump? If Trump spends 10% of his time and money and polling etc in New York, thats AGAIN less of what in any case was a weak campaign in terms of support - to the vulnerable down-ticket candidates feeling the pull of the anchor that is Trump, weighing them down and drowning them.
Bur I want to come back to that idea of deciding based on what the last person was who talked to you. That is a HORRIBLY bad manager indeed. I had one boss like that and it will drive you nuts. There will be many who will be resigning because Trump is so utterly disastrous as the Candidate, where he promises you in YOUR meeting to do it your way and then he talks to the limo driver or the usher at the event next, and decides to go opposite of what he just promised you. So it means the top guys HAVE to hang around Trump all the time - it means THEIR work is FAR less effective - this from a team that did none of its homework in the Primary season - and is behind - and has not hired all the staff it needs - and is short-staffed and underfunded for the general campaign - with almost no usable surrogates to take much of that load EITHER. Meanwhile on the opposite side is the most prepared candidate in history, who over-prepared in the primary season, has the largest staff ever assembled, plus a super-powerful Big Data system to optimize and maximize their effort - run by some of the best staff ever in political campaigns - while being the richest campaign ever to run with funds to spare - and with the strongest surrogate team in the history of Presidential politics.
The morale at the Trump campaign is bad. It will keep getting worse. They can't hire the best staff who won't join the losing effort. Some who are there will bicker and complain. Trump will be firing many more, often for trivial reasons - or in cases where all in the Campaign see the fired person was right and Trump was wrong - this further saps morale. That is all before the REAL polling disaster becomes evident, after the Conventions, into August. Hillary will be safely in a 10 point lead by then, and that means the rats start to escape the sinking ship.
Then a few words about campaign budget and financing. So yeah, now the myth of Trump self-funding is long gone. He spent months telling that candidates who take money are then beholden to those who contributed, but now Trump will take in something nearing a Billion dollars in money - with all the strings that come attached to those donations. So far, so bad. But it gets worse. He has not much time left, why is the SuperPAC still a mess? His various surrogates are promoting two rival SuperPACs and Trump hasn't clarified which it is that his supporters should donate to. This was all done very fast and not with much sensible planning. (Once they exist, the campaign is not allowed to 'coordinate' with its SuperPAC but thats a very nebulous rule). But on Trump's main campaign funding. He's decided he won't build a ground operation of his own - he will rely on the Republican party to do that for him. Sounds nice. Why didn't every previous candidate do that? Because it means Trump will not be in control. And that Republican party machine has to support ALL the candidates in that state, from Governor to dog-catcher. They CERTAINLY do not have the budget to do a proper job of it for the Presidential candidate and his/her needs - that is why EVERY past campaign, the Presidential candidate set up his/her own organization (in the battleground states obviously).
But now comes the added mess of Trump. Many local politicians do not WANT to be seen anywhere near Trump. While Hillary will be loved by all Democrats, who will HAPPILY re-organize their calendars to be NEAR her when she is in town, with Trump, the GOP party organization in that state has to be mindful of every individual candidate who doesn't want to be seen with Trump, and try that extra layer of hassle in organizing events and press etc. What about local fliers, advertising, lawn signs, robocalls, etc. The local party is now saddled with MORE work (because Trump won't be bothered) which takes away from their own guys that they KNOW - who often will hate that Trump can't be bothered to pay his own way and hire his own staff - and where will those loyalties go - to try to save the own guy rather than fight for Trump - which will only get worse, the more Trump will be under water in the head-to-head polling against Hillary. This is a very very VERY bad way to go about the campaign, and I am expecting Manafort to eventually convince Trump that they have to set up their own staffing in at least the most important battleground states like Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Colorado. They will NOT get 100% out of a shared resource with the party. Thats just dumb. Usually its the OTHER way, where the locals hope for more help from the 'rich' Presidential campaign, to pick up some of the extra effort for THEIR local guys, not this way.
So then we get the last unexpected bonus and silver lining on the thundercloud for Hillary's team, the Libertarian surprise. Its not that much a silver lining as gold-pressed latinum. This may turn out a mirage, but this might be the year of the Libertarians hitting major percentages, into high single digits or even double digits in the general election in November. THAT is more than gold. That is more than platinum for Hillary. In her worst week this year, she may have received the best present at its end. This week which otherwise was so bad for her. Gary Johnson, the ex Governor of New Mexico, was just selected as the candidate of the Libertarian party. He is a Republican. His Vice Presidential running mate is another Republican former Governor, William Weld who ran the very Democratic state of Massachussetts. And these two have already been very vocal critics of Trump. In some polling of a three-way race, Johnson polls at around 10% already - while nobody knows him in any way. Now they will be in the news at least for a short while, and many who are very conservative and or very Republican voters, but who really don't like Trump for whatever reasons, and can't stomach the idea of voting for a Clinton, will have two solid but moderate Republicans - both ex Governors - to vote for. The Libertarian party is the only other ticket which has access to all states, so every voter will get a choice of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump or Gary Johnson (while each state will have usually a dozen or so also lesser 'third party' candidates, but none that are on the ballot in every state). If Johnson can get his polling to 15% - a distinct possibility - he'd also get to join the TV debates.
Most years a third-party candidate has no chance, and this year too, Johnson won't be winning the election. But recently Ross Perot in 1992 did get 19% of the vote, and at one point in the race he was ahead of both rivals. Bill Clinton eventually won in 1992, with 43%, over incumbent sitting President Daddy Bush who got 37% of the vote. Many Republicans feel that Perot 'spoiled' their race and Daddy Bush would have won if Perot was not in it. The exit polls however very clearly show that Perot took votes from both sides and Bill Clinton would have won in any case. Then in year 2000, Ralph Nader ran on the Green Party ticket, and while he only got 3% of the vote, it did damage Al Gore enough, that (after a recount and Supreme Court intervention) W Bush was declared the winner. Even a few points of the total election might swing it one way or the other.
Libertarians can find some appeal with both Republican and Democratic voters but they generally are far more aligned with Republicans. There is a rather well defined Libertarian wing to the Republican party (which used to vote for Texas Congressman Ron Paul and now supported, but perhaps only in a lukewarm way, his son Rand Paul). I would think, in very rough terms, about 75% of Gary Johnson's votes would be drained from Trump and 25% from Hillary. Give those +/- 5% either way and its always a net damage to Trump now that Johnson definitely will be on the ballot in November. But now the game becomes, how much of the 'stop Trump' movement and 'never Trump' movement which may be left, inside the Republicans, will shift to supporting Johnson and Weld. I'd guess Mitt Romney will be there rather quickly and so probably will be the Bushes.
Because they are both Republicans, Johnson and Weld provide the 'cover' for conservatives to fairly vote 'against' Trump but not actually vote for Hillary to win. In reality, any vote by a Republican to the Libertarian ticket will be effectively a vote helping Hillary defeat Trump (and similarly any Bernie supporters who will end up voting for the Libertarian - or any other ticket like Green party - will be voting to support Trump against Hillary). The Libertarian ticket has zero chance of winning this year, Johnson is about as exciting as a candidate as George Pataki, but he can well get into the double digits in his support. And because they know their core voters will be disgruntled Republicans, the pair, Johnson and Weld, are very well motivated to attack Trump at every chance they get. Meanwhile, for all those Trump-haters who really want Trump to fail comprehensively (the Wall Street Journal just ran an editorial where they argued Trump NEEDS to fail in epic manner so the party learns not to nominate candidates that are this bad - the point I've made for months) they are likely to announce their support of the Johnson-Weld ticket in 'timely' manner, not necessarily coordinated, but to give a general impression of a growing wave, so some will deliberately wait for an opportune moment WHEN to announce, to keep up that feeling of momentum.
Trump is behind. What he absolutely cannot sustain, is for erosion more from his side than Hillary's side. A perfect third party candidate in this year, for Trump, would have been Bernie. The worst possible candidate to run, this year, for Trump, is another Republican. We have to see how this plays out, but this Libertarian ticket may well be the worst news to hit the Trump campaign this whole season up to now. But we don't yet know. Lets see a few weeks of does this story pick up steam, does this story have 'legs' or will it fizzle out in the next few weeks and be dead by the Conventions. I do think, that with all the feuding and trouble that Trump has gotten himself into, for all those who actually do not WANT to be on Trump's VP list, all those politicians will likely want to now go with the 'sane' Republican alternative - ie the Libertarian ticket (as long as that ticket fits their political views - Libertarians are totally against the bedroom police and bathroom police aspects of the Religious Right, so I don't expect Ted Cruz to really like this option but John Kasich should find this ticket far more palatable than supporting Trump).
Then there is the money. The Bush clan has tons of financial clout. If they come in support of the Libertarian ticket, that could give them some significant money. Then there is the Koch brothers network. One of the Koch brothers once ran for VP on the Libertarian ticket, and they have been very warm to Libertarian views in the past. They hate Trump, here they have two moderate Republicans, why not go support them. Its plausible that this ticket really takes off, and gets Johnson to something around 20% or even 25% of the final election in November, and as they'll be a professionally run campaign without the sillyness of Trump, if they run roughly neck-to-neck in total national vote percent, say both get 22% (with Hillary winning in epic landslide at 56%) then its VERY likely that Johnson wins more STATES than Trump while they'd have as many votes. Trump's base is very loyal but widely spread. The Johnson-Weld ticket could focus and pick up a bunch of red states where they could slightly outperform the 'generic' Trump effort - while Trump would have to fight (and badly lose) in the battleground states (where Johnson would not attempt to win).
If the Libertarian ticket is strong enough to qualify for TV debates ie Johnson polls at above 15% by September, then Trump will be fighting a two-front war where he is the underdog, utterly outgunned on both fronts. And where normally the in-party fighting ends at the Convention - this would be that weird year, where the Republican and Conservative 'Stop Trump' movement could actually run until November, uttely totally completely destroying any chances he might have otherwise had. Even if in November Johnson only takes 10% of the national vote (halfway between Ralph Nader of year 2000 and Ross Perot of 1992) then Trump is down another 5 points against Hillary. If Johnson could get to Ross Perot levels - and assuming they continue to mainly attack Trump from the right, appealing to conservatives and in mostly the red states - then at Johnson on a national 20% vote level (with Trump say 25%) its possible Trump wins NO STATES and Johnson wins a handful (Kansas, Oklahoma, Idaho) and Hillary wins over 40 states flipping such 'red' states as Texas, Mississippi, Utah..
We don't know yet. But this is a development that could be utterly devastating to Trump 2016. If they play this right, the Johnson-Weld ticket could be the 'real conservative, real Republican' ticket and the 'adult' and 'rational' choice against Hillary. They could even plausibly win more votes than Trump. But if they get as much as 10% of the vote, then Trump is LUCKY if he escapes with a 20 point loss to Hillary. If these guys climb above 10% in November, it pushes Hillary's victory into truly 'catastrophic' drubbing of more than 20 point loss to Trump.
This is yet another aspect I did not see coming in this truly amazing year, and once again, the stars are aligning even more perfectly for Hillary. A strong third-party run also means higher turnout - that is always to the Democrats' advantage and the disadvantage of Republicans. This means even more trouble for down-ticket candidates. And those will then be making their various choices of who is going to campaign with Trump or who will go join the rebel alliance of Johnson-Weld. Meanwhile the Democrats will be united like never before, safely ignoring the Libertarians and focusing like a laser on Trump. Its fear of Trump which will drive up Democratic voter turnout. And remember, its not enough for Hillary to win, she has to flip both the Senate and the House to have any chance to enact her political agenda. She needs to have huge coat-tails, to bring in that huge change in Congress.