It probably won’t happen but if Rick Perry ran as a third party candidate for President and did so as a far right, rabid populist, these are the states his advisers believe he could win in a three way race against a Democrat (Obama) and a Republican:
Nevada, Rhode Island, Florida, South Carolina, Michigan, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, New Jersey, Oregon, Ohio, Colorado, Indiana, Texas, Arkansas, Maine, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Montana, Iowa, Wyoming, Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska. (I am not sure why they do not include Alaska.)
Of these, only Nebraska and Maine allocate Electoral College votes by congressional district so he will probably not win Nebraska’s entire vote but will win most of them. The states that the Perry group believe will be the tightest in a three way race are Nevada, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Rhode Island and Iowa. The rest they believe, given the current political climate and conditions, are comfortable wins when a plurality is all you need.
The total number of Electoral College votes in the comfortable states is 211. The total required to win an Electoral College vote is 270. The total number of electoral votes in Perry’s toss-up states is 88. If Perry took them all he would have a total of 299 electoral votes. On the other hand, if he lost even two of the “big three,” Pennsylvania, Florida or Michigan, he cannot win the electoral vote.
Running as a third party candidate Perry could not expect to win a vote in the House of Representatives, which is where the decision goes if no candidate can muster a majority in the College. There being no majority in the College will be an almost certainty if Perry gets 211 votes. He will certainly have a plurality of electoral votes.
Even if he gets only 150 electoral votes, it will prevent anybody else from getting a majority. Since Electoral College voters are not committed, a “hung” college could give Perry, depending on how much influence he has over his Electors, a lot of negotiating pop with whoever the Republican candidate may be. This will be particularly so if the new Congress has a majority of Democrats in the House.
If the new Congress looks like the current one, Perry will have enough Tea Party members, between eighty and ninety, to prevent an outright majority for the Republican nominee in that body either. His negotiating position would be powerful under those circumstances as well.
If Perry takes this route Saturday and if he runs a strong “man on horse back” campaign, railing against Washington, socialism, Wall Street (he is the only candidate who does not need Wall Street money since he has the oil and gas industry), terrorists, and such, he could pull this off. Certainly, he could get his 200 plus electoral votes. He would get these votes even finishing third in the popular vote. This is not only mathematically possible but highly probable, given current economic, social and political conditions.