Running as an independent, however, would require more than a change of heart by Trump – it would require a national campaign to document the support of hundreds of thousands of voters across the country, in the form of signed petitions and new voter registrations.
Even then, quirks in local election laws, and the judgment of local officials, could conceivably keep Trump off the ballot in multiple states, said Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, a monthly newsletter devoted to voting laws.
“It is hard. Definitely it’s hard,” Winger said of registering as a national third-party candidate, in an interview with the Guardian. “But people are capable of using their brains.”
Winger advised that in most states, so-called sore-loser laws, which ban a candidate who loses a primary from switching parties for a general election, have been shown not to apply to presidential elections, because presidential party nominations are not won or lost in any one state.
Some states make it more difficult than others, however, for candidates to switch horses midstream, Winger said. A spokesman for Ohio’s secretary of state, John Husted, has been quoted as suggesting that Trump had disqualified himself for an independent run in the state because he had chosen to participate in the Republican primary debate in Cleveland earlier this month.