My question was spurred by reading this article which describes the voting mechanisms of the electoral college. The article was shared by a friend who believed it was a way for Clinton to be elected as President, but after reading the article, it seemed to me that the election of Mike Pence would be much more likely. The fundamental idea is that if enough electors "vote their conscience", Trump may not achieve the necessary 270 votes and the decision would then go to the House. There were two sections of the article that I'd like to highlight:
"If neither party ends up with 270 votes, then the decision passes to the House of Representatives, and a vote in that chamber determines the winner. The House is permitted to choose from among the three candidates who receive the most votes in the Electoral College."
The part that interests me in this section is that the decision must be made among the top three candidates. The article also describes predictions for how this breakdown may occur:
"The requirement here is modest: a small group of Republican electors must be persuaded to vote their conscience. No question that many of these are appalled at the prospect of a Trump presidency; surely a few are courageous enough to cast a vote for someone else. (Most if not all would vote for another Republican, of course; it doesn’t seem likely that many would choose Hillary Clinton.)"
Given that the vote of specific electors is not made public and that many "establishment politicians" may feel more comfortable with a Pence presidency than a Trump presidency, is it reasonable to assume that Mike Pence could be elected as President of the United States despite never declaring an official bid for the presidency?