Donald Trump’s lascivious boasts about groping women, a common refrain emerged Saturday: The GOP nominee should withdraw from the ticket. The pleas to step aside came from many corners of the GOP universe, including Hugh Hewitt, the conservative radio host, and South Dakota Sen. John Thune, a member of the Republican congressional leadership. Trump has so far defiantly rejected calls to withdraw. But even if Republicans managed to persuade him to bow out, their political headache would not suddenly vanish. An attempt to replace Trump on the ticket would pose staggering logistical hurdles. For one thing, Trump’s name will undoubtedly remain on the ballot. Across the country, election officials have already prepped and printed voting materials. Overseas and military voters must receive their ballots 45 days prior to the election, a deadline that passed last month.
And in states that offer early voting — including swing states such as Florida and Iowa — more than 400,000 people have already cast ballots, according to a database maintained by University of Florida professor Michael McDonald. “The election is already underway,” McDonald said in an interview. “There is no way to replace Trump’s name on the ballot.”
The mechanics of designating an alternative GOP nominee to Trump are also thorny. Under Republican National Committee rules, the party has no authority to unilaterally dump the nominee. An attempt to change the rules would be “really unprecedented and probably create a civil war and lawsuits,” said one GOP elections expert who was granted anonymity to speak frankly.
The party does have the authority under Rule 9 of the RNC rules to name a replacement if a candidate dies or otherwise vacates the nomination. That means Trump would have to willingly step aside for Republicans to tap a new nominee.