The war between the regular Republicans and the angry populists shows no signs of ending. Donald Trump is still the leading candidate for the party's nomination. Behind him comes Ted Cruz, who is loathed by his party's leaders.
Now Michael Bloomberg, the moderate Republican former mayor of New York, is mulling an independent run.
And Jim Webb, the Republican cabinet official turned Democratic senator, is also contemplating an independent candidacy.
In 1860 the Democratic Party split. If they had not, Centre College's own John C. Breckinridge, the sitting vice-president, would surely have won the presidency. Instead, Stephen Douglas refused to concede the nomination. The Democrats field two competing candidates. A third party candidate, John Bell, ran on a status-quo platform. This allowed Abraham Lincoln, of the new Republican Party, to win an election he is not likely to have won otherwise.
If the Republicans splinter in 2016, I expect the would recover in a few years. Still, there is no guarantee that the conservatives will rally behind one banner this year.