Perhaps the biggest challenge facing anti-Trump forces is a time crunch. They must decide whether to back an independent candidate in the coming month, and if such a candidate emerges, it will take a Herculean effort to get him onto enough state ballots.
Texas has the earliest deadline of any state for independent candidates hoping to appear on the presidential ballot: May 9. Candidates must submit the signatures of 79,939 registered voters who did not vote in either major party’s presidential primary. The application to appear on the state ballot also must include candidate’s vice-presidential running mate and signed statements of consent from 38 presidential-elector candidates.
North Carolina requires 89,366 signatures by June 9. Illinois requires 25,000 signatures by June 27. New Mexico and Indiana have a deadline of June 30. The other states’ cutoffs are in July, August, and September. Apart from the signature thresholds, the requirements to appear as a choice in November vary widely: Some states, for example, have a geographic distribution requirement for petitions, requiring a certain number of signatures in each congressional district. Getting on the ballot in enough states to reach 270 electoral votes would be difficult for a candidate starting today — but it might become impossible if that candidate failed to meet Texas’s deadline.
And it’s still unclear as of now whether any such candidate could emerge to unite conservative Trump opponents.