This certainly increases the possibility of a McCain Lieberman independent ticket. As I’ve often said, I can’t imagine McCain winning the GOP nomination. Like Lieberman, he’s burned too many bridges for his party to ever truly forgive him.
A number of people have floated the McCain/Lieberman Independent ticket. I think it’s plausible, but I’m not sure McCain would go for it. With their position on the Iraq War, a McCain/Lieberman ticket would only pull votes away from the Republican candidate, which would only help the Dem. nominee. It’s hard to imagine McCain working to put either Hillary or Obama in the White House. McCain might conceivably want the VP nomination, and could bully the party into giving him that spot on the ticket, but is that what he really wants?
Generally speaking, the left is more likely to split the ticket than the right. Nader’s run in 2000 gave Dubya the election, and his run in 2004 certainly hurt Kerry. As a result, the far-left progressives hold a lot of power over the Democratic party. The moderate candidates, like Hillary, have to tread carefully lest they alienate the hard-line progressives. If they do, they could face an independent campaign that would devastate the Democratic ticket.
Nader is too invested in his maverick giant-killer role and will happily run again. I find it mystifying, as it seems to elevate self-righteousness over results, but Nader’s done it twice and will–I’m sure–do it again. But Nader’s effect in 2004 was much reduced, and would likely be further reduced in 2008 unless he partnered with Gore.
An independent “Green” campaign would force the Democratic candidate to move far to the left, and would cost the campaign a lot of moderate voters. But more importantly, I think a Gore/Nader ticket could pull as much as 5% of the popular vote, which would certainly cost the Dems the election–again. The big question, of course, is what does Gore want for not running?
Is he happy as the Nobel-Climate guy? Is he done with Politics as such? Does he want to be an ambassador? Rep to the UN? I don’t think so. Gore isn’t a Nader. Gore isn’t content to sit outside and throw stones. I think Gore wants the White House, and the question is how to get it. An independent campaign puts a Republican into the white house and Gore could then run again in 2012. If his image holds up, he could be a front-runner again.
Or Gore could hold out the threat of an independent campaign to force the Dems to give him the VP nomination. That gives the Dem. ticket a better chance at keeping the green progressives in line, and (if the Dems win) it sets Gore up as a 4-term VP, and the walk-away winner of the nomination in 2016.
Some people have argued that Gore is too old — he’s 59 — and that he won’t want to wait until 2016 for his bid. I’m not so sure. Gore seems pretty hale and hearty, and 67 isn’t that old for a Presidential candidate. Of course, if he doesn’t want to wait, he could run this year and set himself up for 2012.