Republican should note that Trump does not leave Hillary unscathed. She drops from 46 percent to 37 percent. True, Jeb is the bigger loser, for now. But we’re only testing the effect of the Republican primary version of Trump. And even that version lops nearly 10 points off of the Democrat. The independent general election model would attract a different mix of voters.
Furthermore, we can’t assume Trump would match Perot’s 19 percent of the popular vote. Perot managed to regain much of the support he lost after he bizarrely dropped out with charming debate performances and uber-wonkish infomercials. He earned respectful treatment in the media. He looked like a plausible candidate and not a wasted vote.
Nothing in Trump’s background suggests he is capable of exuding the same seriousness. He’s more likely to fade in the stretch.
Is there a chance that an independent Trump takes more from the Republican nominee than the Democrat, and in large enough numbers to change the outcome? Sure, there’s a chance, but it’s far from a certainty.