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Mike Pence for president in 2020? Not a chance

Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence laughs as he discusses an issue with Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine (off camera) during their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence laughs as he discusses an issue with Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine (off camera) during their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016.

After his strong performance in the VP debate, a lot of election pundits are pegging Indiana Governor Mike Pence as the initial front runner to win the GOP presidential nomination in 2020 if Donald Trump loses this November.

Keep dreaming.

If Trump loses this election even by a relatively close margin, his defeat will embolden the GOP to sweep away all traces of the Trump campaign, the Trump team, and of course Trump's running mate. It's not that the powers that be — err, the powers that were — in the Republican Party didn't try to sweep Trump and his people away all throughout this set of primaries. But the primary voters kept getting in the way in historic numbers. Trump keeps winning so pushing him out was impossible.

No matter how nice and dignified Pence appears to be, the Democrats and their friends in the news media will never let him get too far without connecting him to Trump who they have often compared to Adolf Hitler. And the GOP won't want to risk going down that rabbit hole again.

And, if the GOP has learned anything from Trump's rise, it's that voters wanted someone different — not an uber conservative like Pence.

Trump is probably the most pro-gay rights Republican presidential nominee ever. By contrast, Pence is a much more overtly religious opponent of gay marriage and his state almost lost a chunk of business after the Indiana state legislature passed a religious freedom law most gay leaders considered to be overly hostile.

And here's another facet of Trump that Pence could never replicate: Trump is truly a political outsider. One of the only reasons Trump brought so many new voters into the GOP primary process and now onto the general election rolls is because he was the only candidate who could truthfully claim no connection at all to the bad policies both parties have inflicted upon the country. More specifically, he had no connection to and was quite critical of a Republican Party whose national brand died during the 2008 presidential election.

The only logical alternative come 2020 would be a more acceptable outsider, not a longtime career politician like Pence.

None of this means Pence would make a bad president. But as most Americans suffering through this election already know, there are probably millions of better suited people for the Oval Office than any of the people who ran this year at all.


Commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.