Third party

Could a third party candidate win if trump is too unpopular Democratic candidate too far to the left?

Third party candidates don’t usually run as “middle-of-the-road” types.


The economy – not its contemporaneous performance, per se, but the electorate’s depth of optimism about it – will determine the result. There is no gap for a third party to slide into until the Republican Party has finished imploding.


The only issue in the next election will be beating Trump. There will be enormous pressure to unite behind the Democratic candidate. Even the few percent won by third parties in 2016 was sufficient to create screams that they cost Clinton the election. You’d have to convince a full 50% of the voting public (Clinton got 48%) to switch away from the Democrats to a third party that has no organization, no local support, no existing elected officials, and no money. Madness.

Perot was middle of the road and got 19% first time he ran.

No third party will ever win. And if perchance one did win, who is he going to call in Congress to pursue an agenda? Neither party will trust him, neither one will work with him. Like it or not, the US is and always will be a two party state.

Are you still living in 1992? Even if you are, the rest of the country isn’t.

Perot didn’t think he had a chance even against Kang and Kodos in '96.

(Perot shows up at 0:35)

I have never met anyone who admitted voting for John Anderson in 1980. He got 5.7 million votes.

Well we haven’t met, but I did as did my wife.

I voted for Anderson in 1980. Basically he got votes from people who thought that Carter was demonstrably incompetent and that Reagan was a dangerous loon. A different scenario than today as the dangerous loon is also incompetent and occupies the White House.

Third party candidates are only spoilers. I’m still curious how Jill Stein was sitting at a dinner with Vladimir Putin. Most loony city council members don’t get invited to dine with a head of state.

That was what happened with Jesse Ventura in Minnesota. He couldn’t get anything done, because he had no support in the state legislature.

No, because US ballot access laws are intentionally designed to keep the two parties at all he top of the heap, and make it difficult for third parties to get on the ballot.

What other people said is true, but maybe even more importantly a third party candidate who got a plurality of the vote (let’s say 35 or 40 percent) would still probably not receive more than 269 electoral votes. Therefore the election would go to the House, and they would not select someone who is from a third party to be president. They would choose a Democrat or a Republican. It would probably be a Democrat at this point, but that’s not certain because they vote by state delegation and not just as the whole body does on other matters.

And I guarantee they would vote for the nominee of their own party even if that nominee came in third in the national popular vote. Of course, that would make the new president controversial and lame duck right off the bat.

Haven’t we already learned our lesson concerning third-party candidates? 2000? 2016?

A third party candidate will be viable when we have ranked-choice voting (also called instant-runoff voting). One where people cast their vote indicating who is their first choice and also who is their second choice, etc. Let’s say the candidates are Clinton, Stein, Johnson, and Trump. If no one gets a clear majority of votes, the candidate with the least votes (let’s say it’s Johnson) gets dismissed and those whose first choice was Johnson have their second-choice votes count instead.

In this hypothetical, voters who in real life held their nose and voted for Trump would have felt more comfortable voting 3rd party (such as Johnson), knowing that they weren’t “throwing their vote away” or making it easier for Clinton to get elected. Vice versa for people who couldn’t bring themselves to line up behind Clinton — they could make Stein their first choice without feeling like they were handing the election to Trump.

(Maine is doing ranked choice voting for statewide races)

At first this would just facilitate 3rd party votes as protest votes. But that would cause 3rd party candidates to pull in far higher numbers than they do as it stands now, and that, in turn, makes them look more viable.

Nitpick: Instant-runoff voting is one form of ranked-choice, but it’s not the only form. There are other forms that are better than IRV in every way but one: They’re harder for the electorate to understand. Which is actually a pretty big deal, because a democracy depends upon the people trusting it, and you can’t trust something you can’t understand.

But back to the chances of a third-party candidate winning: You don’t need to look at the popular vote total, because that’s irrelevant. You need to look at what state or states the third-party candidate can win outright. In order to win, three things are necessary for a third-party candidate:
1: They need to win at least one electoral vote (which, aside from Nebraska, Maine, or faithless electors, means winning at least one state).
2: The two main candidates need to be evenly-enough split that the EVs the third party got are enough to deny both main candidates the majority (this becomes easier, the more EVs the third party got).
3: The House-by-state has to prefer the third party over both of the main candidates.

In 2016, Evan McMullin had a chance to pull this off. It was a very, very small chance (538 estimated it at about 1%), but he had a chance, and out of a history of 45 presidents, it wouldn’t be too surprising for a 1% chance to come through once.

But McMullin had a couple of key advantages: One, he had very strong local support, in one or two states (Utah and maybe Idaho). And two, one of the major-party candidates was bad on an unprecedented level, leaving the possibility that establishment Republicans (i.e., those in the House) might prefer a more predictable conservative alternative to Trump. Now, though, there doesn’t appear to be a local candidate emerging, and the Republican establishment have nearly all firmly embraced Trump. So even that 1% chance won’t come up for anyone this cycle.

Go ahead… throw away your vote!

No, I don’t see that happening. Furthermore I doubt the Democrats will vote for someone “too left”, despite the noise, because most Democrats are mainly interested in defeating Trump! Choosing someone too far left would give people valid reasons not to vote for their candidate, and potential Democratic voters might stay home (which could give Trump victory).

Goldfish genes are spreading… so we’ve forgotten already.

I’m not sure that’s part of it. There are always about 12 people I’ve never heard of on the presidential ballot. It can’t be that hard to get on.