So what happens if Hillary is forced to drop out of the presidential race due to criminal charges over her email server? Everyone who supports her says it won’t happen, but, just for fun, what if it does?
The short answer is probably President Trump.
The more complex answer might still be worth a look, and The Hill does just that for us.
As the only other candidate in the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders could see the party quickly coalesce around him in an effort to halt the bedlam, and stop the bleeding. But that’s far from a sure thing, with many in the party fearful he would be a weak general election candidate. But denying Sanders the nomination could come at a price, alienating the millions of Democrats who remain loyal to him.
The Democratic National Committee could also decide on the replacement on its own. One wonders what Joe Biden thinks about after that second Scotch each night.
But if an indictment came before the convention, the story would be different. Unlike the Republican Party, which binds most of its delegates to candidates regardless of delegates’ personal preferences, at least on the first vote, Democratic candidates have input on who represents them on the convention floor.
“There are no Clinton-bound delegates who would prefer voting for Sanders, for example,” delegate expert and University of Georgia professor Josh Putnam told The Hill. “Those folks are essentially hand-picked to be loyal. They are unlikely to stray.” Those are the true believers.
Then there are the superdelegates, the 712 Democratic Party leaders, including some members of Congress, who have the freedom to support any candidate at the convention. The superdelegates are supporting Clinton in droves right now — 95 percent of those who have expressed a preference have chosen Clinton.
But they could run if her candidacy came to the brink of imploding. “The superdelegates would flee because they are politicians,” said one Democratic strategist who has worked on presidential campaigns. “They are most likely to feel the pressure not to cast their ballots in favor of a nominee under indictment.” And torpedo the election.
“They know Joe Biden, they know John Kerry. It’s completely conceivable that they would turn from somebody they know and respect — Hillary — to somebody else they know and respect, and bypass Sanders,” said one strategist. “It would be a sh*tshow of the first order.”