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Are 3rd Party Presidential Candidates a Waste?

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posted on Aug, 25 2008 @ 03:05 AM
Its not uncommon to hear the opinion that 3rd Party Candidates can't win, and are just sabotaging the major candidates in key states.

What some of you may not know is that there are actually 3 minor parties which have sufficient ballot access to win the Electoral vote- which is to say that their candidate goes on the ballot and does not have to be written in for voters in states with a combined electoral vote total of 270 or more.

Those parties are the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, and the Green Party(Parties in Contention on Wikipedia).

So theoretically, if they put up a great candidate and he ran a stellar campaign, one of those three parties really could win.

But they don't win. In fact I think the reason that they theoretically could win is precisely why they don't win. These parties have spread their resources out to achieve a very small presence over a very large territory.

If they were to concentrate their resources in a few selected states, they could potentially win electoral votes. For a third party, a few electoral votes IS a victory. Being capable of forcing an election into the House of Representatives is a huge stick to swing at the major parties- especially if you've won enough seats from both major parties to be a balance holder in that vote.

Of course there are still two problems. 1. How can they carry even 1 state? and 2. How can they get the votes in congress to be necessary to resolving an electoral tie?

But the 2nd is the answer to the first: You carry a state by building up from communities, consolidating power at the lower levels and getting people used to voting for your party, and also developing local politicians in your party to run for higher offices.

So that only leaves the question of how you get the congress seats. I don't even have to spell that out. It's so simple that even a congressman can do it.

So I can't help asking myself why 3rd parties are investing in presidential runs right now. Why aren't they localizing themselves and putting their full resources into consolidation of power?

posted on Aug, 25 2008 @ 07:35 AM
The Mayflower pilgrims, led by William Bradford, founded Plymouth Rock in a strange new land. It began as a dream.

Ft. Frederica in Georgia was established by the founder of Georgia, Gen. James Edward Oglethorpe, in 1736. This too began as a dream.

The great state of Texas joined the United States in 1836 becoming the 28th state. This was because of a dream that spread.

I hear what you are saying and have felt the same feelings. Why not back one of the two parties?

Why do we have to feel like we are having to choose between the lessor of two evils in November?

Will the next four years bring about changes that make a third party more realistic? I hope so.

I hope the dreams of those stubborn citizens that have tried for many years to give us more choice comes true.

A change in our political system is well over due.

posted on Aug, 25 2008 @ 10:48 AM
Some of them most definatly are.

a while back i compiled a list of presidential candidates that you'll never see on the MSM

you can find that list here

and most notably, further down, we see one candidate in particular, John Bowles, who is the National Socialist Order of America's candidate, who supports all the following (but not limited to):

Humanitarian Relocation of All Non-Whites
Elimination of Anti-White Laws & Holidays

the list of non-main contenders is strictly breath taking.

It is proof that anyone can run for president - but its also proof that 99% of those running arent worth even considering (but it is oh-so-fun to read them talk about where they stand)

[edit on 8/25/2008 by Andrew E. Wiggin]

posted on Aug, 25 2008 @ 12:41 PM
reply to post by The Vagabond

The only third party candidate to actually have influence on the outcome of the election was Ralph Nader in 2000. Had half his voters chose VP Gore in Florida, it would be quite different now. I think the voters who voted for Mr Perot would have gone half and half had Mr Perot not been in the race.
Many people I know who vote third party would not vote if they only had a choice of two candidates.
I see what the third party members have to say, and then I make my mind up. I look at voting as my choice and my chance to express myself, no matter what chances the person I vote for has of winning. It isn't always about winning, but about where you stand.
Great OP, starred and flagged.

Edited to add:
One of the things Mr Perot did was get Americans behind the idea of a balanced budget. President Clinton took this idea and actually balanced the budget. Sometimes the third party runs on a good idea, and in this case it was adopted by the winning candidate.

[edit on 8/25/2008 by kidflash2008]

posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 03:33 PM
Here's how I see it. Third parties (fourth, fifth, etc) are very necessary because not everyone is a dem or a pub. I also believe that is why we have such a low voter turn out. It is a common misconception that these two parties sufficiently represent Americans. I don't believe that to be true for a second, yet that is what we naturally believe because that is pretty much all we are offered.

Imagine if your entire life you were only offered white or milk chocolate. But you just never could really like either completely. You just find chocolate to be too sweet. Then one day you realize there is such a thing as dark chocolate and you see that you've been missing out for so long. If your store had actually sold it, you would have frequently bought it.

I see that analogy as fitting perfectly for the third party. I really believe that if a third party candidate were to get as much attention as a democrat or republican a lot more people would turn out to vote seeing that their interests are being represented in the election. I think this is why we've come to vote for the lesser of two evils. They think they HAVE to vote for one or the other. Sometimes it's completely over their heads that they can even write someone in.

I don't believe there's such a thing as wasting your vote on a third party candidate. Your vote is practically sacred. You use it to make your voice heard. What are you saying when, instead of voting for who you REALLY want just because they aren't POPULAR, you settle for voting for a candidate who is more likely to win just so you can say you voted for that guy (or woman)?

If more people didn't fall prey to this line of thinking I wholeheartedly believe that we would have some very interesting elections if EVERYBODy'S interests were represented and the ballot was full of presidential hopefuls.

It's like in school when you were voting for class president. Of course the popular kids always ran, but there were some book worms and unknowns that did too. Someone always got votes. Of course it was the popular kid who won but at least some of the students weren't stuck voting between the popular kid who shoved them in a locker or the one who just stole their lunch money.

posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 05:29 PM
I view third parties as absolutely neccessary to keep this country from being run by an oligopolistic two-party system in which neither parties views differ that greatly, and when they do one party oor the other fails to adequately represent the American public

posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 07:39 PM

Originally posted by The Vagabond

What some of you may not know is that there are actually 3 minor parties
So I can't help asking myself why 3rd parties are investing in presidential runs right now. Why aren't they localizing themselves and putting their full resources into consolidation of power?

I believe it is because having someone run as a 3rd Party Candidate is the best method available to get their individual messages out for consideration. Even though they have no chance to win, over a series of elections the message trickles through the population to possibly become mainstream.

I see it as a form of protest so to speak and a far better method of protest than we are seeing in Denver now. Words coming from an actual candidate with a legitimate Party behind them carry far more weight than say a Blog or carrying a picket sign in protest.

Taking Perot as an example; even though he did not win, many of his popular idea's worked their way into the dialog of the big two. His run was not wasted for that reason.

Another point is that when one of them gets a noticeable number of votes it makes future candidates wake up to ideas they may not have been aware of. Slowly these ideas will spread and the good ones have a chance of someday entering the mainstream of politics.

Then we need to take into account local elections where third party candidates do win. Their involvement at a national level, I believe, give them more standing on a local level which is where it all starts.

Here is some interesting info on this from

Although the Republicans and Democrats dominate the American political landscape, third parties have a long and active history of influencing U.S. presidential elections...

posted on Aug, 30 2008 @ 01:56 AM

Originally posted by kidflash2008
reply to post by The Vagabond

The only third party candidate to actually have influence on the outcome of the election was Ralph Nader in 2000. Had half his voters chose VP Gore in Florida, it would be quite different now. I think the voters who voted for Mr Perot would have gone half and half had Mr Perot not been in the race.

Although I would certainly like to believe that wasteful third party campaigns are limited in their negative impact, I am less certain of that fact.
There are effects less tangible than the distribution of the votes cast which are incalculable.

For instance, in the case of Ross Perot (who incidentally I do not consider a wasteful candidate since he stipulated that he would not run unless he gained 100% ballot access and felt he had a legit chance of winning) there was an effect of mobilization of economics focused voters and spreading of the message on the economy. It is impossible to know how many people were inspired to defect the Republican party by Mr Perot, but then couldn't bear to "throw their vote away" on a 3rd Party Candidate, or conversely how many Conservatives might have been initially mobilized by Perot's message but then decided that trying to defeat Clinton was more important.
Primarily I often wonder what would have happened if Perot's campaign had never gone on hold- if he could have won.
But beyond that I wonder what his impact was even if it wouldn't have changed the victor. I wonder how many dissatisified Republicans came out to vote for him, but then gave coat-tails to Republican congressional candidates for instance. This is especially interesting considering the proximity to the contract with America. What kind of butterfly effect would Perot's absence have had on that?

This is why I strongly support equal rights for 3rd parties and independents- because I believe that the ramifications of SERIOUS 3rd candidates might in fact be positive from a centrist point of view (admittedly counterintuitive given trends in multi-party parliamentary systems, but not impossible in the specific context of the American political landscape, which sees "polarization" where Europeans would see two relatively similar parties).

But it is also why I hold such disdain for relatively longshot outsiders like Nader, Buchannan, Badnarik, and even Ron Paul. They calculate their moves based on the unrealistic prospect of winning (now or later, after spreading the message and acclimating the public to the idea of 3rd parties), while completely ignoring the possible affects which they are far more likely to create, not only in such simple forms as Nader in Florida, but in terms of the resources that get contributed to them instead of to major campaigns, the unintended influences of their actions on public perception (the cheapening of politics, which I believe contributes to voter apathy, for instance).

By way of response to nunya13 and secret shadow, let me say last but not least, as I discussed in my OP, I am disgusted by their failure to seize on the changes that they CAN accomplish.
3rd Parties ARE NOT representing the Americans who are not covered by the 2 major parties, because in a democratic republic you don't get to represent people until you get elected. That's why the Republicans and Democrats ARE maintaining the oligopoly on political representation which they introduced so long ago via the Australian Ballot.

It is almost as if 3rd parties refuse to understand the principles of ballot access, districts, and electoral politics.

The only thing keeping Ralph Nader out of congress is Ralph Nader's unwillingness to run for congress. And if he did it right and merged environmental concerns with bringing money home to his constituents, he'd gain the clout to put greens into neighoring districts as well. 30 districts out of 435. 6.8% of congress. Support from 6.8% of all Americans. That's what the Green Party needs to exert influence in Washington D.C. It's attainable. And they're emphasizing it and creating it the way they should be. They run on the expectation of losing and losing and losing and watching for their numbers to hopefully begin to climb slowly, even while saying that there isn't much time to change our ways.

Ross Perot made perhaps a greater blunder. He ran for president again, after he'd gambled big and lost in front of everyone already. What if he had run for Governor of Texas in 1996? What if a two term Governor Perot of Texas had been ready to run as the Other Conservative in 2004?
We'll never know.

The only practical explanation I can conceive for why 3rd parties act as they do is that they don't care. They could change and win small, but that would shrink their fundraising base and their access to public campaign funds. They could fold into a major party and maybe have a coalition candidate from their side win big. But then they wouldn't be their own party.
It as if the real goal was to provide the party officials with a high paying job that requires no results.

posted on Aug, 30 2008 @ 11:09 AM
reply to post by The Vagabond

Ross Perot was a fiscal conservative, but he was socially liberal. Adm. Stockdale (Perot's running mate) was asked his opinion on abortion and responded: "A woman has the right to choose, PERIOD" and did not answer any further. They were moderates, and could have won if they stayed in and really went full steam.
All VP Gore had to do was win New Hampshire and the battle in Florida would not have mattered. Because Ralph Nader took enough votes to make George Bush the winner, he has been blamed for the loss. I think it was Al Gore's fault for not mobilizing his support and running a lackluster campaign. Ralph Nader now seems out of touch as he is a 1960s liberal running in the 21st Century. The Green Party did not want anything to do with him in 2004 or 2008. There are some polls showing him at 4%, better than 2004 and about the same in 2000. I think they will drop after Barack Obama's acceptance speech. I also wish Ralph Nader would have run for Congress to get some of his good ideas at least talked about.
Bob Barr had the best chance at getting 5% or better for the Libertarian Party, but many of his supporters will go for Sen. McCain now that he has chosen a social conservative as his running mate. Bob Barr needs to show the Libertarian Party is like Ross Perot's Reform Party: fiscal conservative, for gun rights and a woman's right to choose. Libertarians are for less government and against the nanny state. He can try to go after fiscal conservative Republicans who find the Evangelical element in the party upsetting (there are many that do).
The only way to get true representation would be to have a parliamentary style House of Representatives, where people vote for their party of choice. The party then picks who will be the representative, usually by ballot of party members. Not going to happen.

posted on Sep, 1 2008 @ 03:50 AM
You can't just focus on one variable though, be it the votes that went to Nader or the loss of NH, or whatever. True enough if Al Gore had won NH, Florida wouldn't have mattered, and if people didn't fall asleep when Al Gore walked into the room during that campaign he might have won, but never the less he was so close that any one of a million variables, some measurable and some not, could have changed the outcome. Among those unseen variables are some created by 3rd party candidates which are less apparent than the votes they steal.

One might wonder if there weren't a one hundred Republicans out there in Florida (20% of Bush's win) who wouldn't have voted, but then took a look at this 1960s liberal still running around not knowing that he's dead, and took that as a reflection on all liberals, perhaps turning out to vote against Gore in part because of that. It's not something we can give a real yes or no to because people are fickle, and the reasons for our impulses are unknown even to ourselves sometimes.

As for the parliamentary system, I despise the fact that parties are given any standing whatsoever. Parties should not be distinct from any other interest group. Despite being entirely extra-constitutional they have set up their own publically supported election system prior to the only constitutional election in this country (the general), they have given themselves ownership of our nations ballots, and by virtue of uniting many unrelated individual campaigns under a single organism, they gain a level of privilege in the area of campaign finance that should be restricted.

Thank god that for all the assumptions our founding fathers made in the writing of the constitution, the nature of our language did not allow any ambiguity on the fact that only people, not corporate entities, can be elected.
Were that not the case, the parties would already have taken advantage and implemented the parliamentary style of election, just as they have already taken advantage of virtually every other silent assumption or ambiguity in the constitution to create the positions they now hold.

posted on Sep, 1 2008 @ 01:01 PM
reply to post by The Vagabond

That is so true about the party style elections. I prefer to vote for an individual since the parties can be very rigid about their stances on the issues.

There are millions of reasons why Al Gore lost. The NH reason can be one of them. I think the reason is what you state, Mr Gore could not excite the base. He also seemed a little elitist, and that may be because he is from a political family. He has changed now and shows off his sense of humor. The SNL skit where he is on the set of "The West Wing" is hilarious.

I like the idea of other people running as they do talk about some issues that may end up forgotten. Ron Paul's supporters are having their own convention. I wonder if he will join forces with Bob Barr of the Libertarian Party?

posted on Sep, 1 2008 @ 01:42 PM
I would think more of Ron Paul if he did unite with Bob Barr. At they very least they would show that they actually are trying to perform, not just sitting around sapping dollars and votes from the major party closest to their own views (though admittedly far from perfect for them) with no prayer of winning.
They'd still have no prayer of winning, but at least they'd be displaying a genuine interest in growth and meaningful power.

posted on Sep, 1 2008 @ 03:46 PM
Here's a little table I put together with estimates of printed ballot access for various candidates (as of a week or two ago):

Republican Party 50 states + DC John McCain
Democratic Party 50 states + DC Barack Obama
Libertarian Party 44 states Bob Barr
Independent 40 states + DC Ralph Nader
Constitution Party 37 states Chuck Baldwin
Green Party 30 states + DC Cynthia McKinney
Soc. Workers Party 12 states Roger Calero
Party for Soc. & Lib. 12 states Gloria LaRiva
Socialist Party 10 states Brian Moore
Prohibition Party 6 states Gene Amondson
Boston Tea Party 2 states Charles Jay
Reform Party 2 states Ted Weill
Independent 1 state Alan Keyes


Wouldn't it be incredible if all the candidates who made it onto the ballots in enough states to possibly get an electoral majority were given equal time/access to the presidential debates, by the media?

Yes, I know four of those six candidates are virtually unheard of, and thus the media justifies, um, keeping them unheard of. Isn't that a bit of a viscous circle, though? Actually, it totally is, and it's ridiculous! Although I don't favor the FCC controlling the media, I must admit that the argument that the FCC should require some sort of standards of fairness in election coverage from the broadcasters, in exchange for those free broadcast licenses, is not unreasonable...

posted on Sep, 1 2008 @ 09:28 PM

Originally posted by Ian McLean
Wouldn't it be incredible if all the candidates who made it onto the ballots in enough states to possibly get an electoral majority were given equal time/access to the presidential debates, by the media?

You beat me to it. This was one of my major issues with the 2004 election (for example).

Michael Badnarik was on the ballot in 48 states yet was precluded from any of the debates. Do we dare deny the incredible influence of those who relay information to us? The media is a monstrous industry that has the ability to feed us all day every day and very little of it is outside of fairly controlled parameters. Is it a protest or spoiling to actually vote for a person who represents us? Must we sacrifice principles or ideals to be considered legitimate?

If I must eat at the toff of the Big Two to be placed in the reasonable, intelligent, or patriotic category, then those who relay this utter rubbish can count me out entirely because I will not be suckered anymore.

We ignore the fact that this country was established with uneducated people in mind (the electoral college anyone?). While literacy rates may be drastically improved I, for one, do not think the public is markedly improved in the "informed" department.

Today, like yesteryear, we rely on the information provided to us more often than not. Folks like us (information seekers) are in an extreme minority as most simply rely on mainstream internet traffic at best and network news as a norm with complete dejected and apathetic at worst.

The two major parties, in their attempt to curtail competition, have created such huge tents that no candidate could possibly satisfy even half of the members on a reasonable amount of issues.

I will vote for the candidate who best represents me, and for the past decade that has been outside the Big Two with the exception of Ron Paul.

We have become weak and petty, strategic and unwilling to survive short term hardship to garner long term gain. We constantly vote for the lesser of two evils in the hopes of merely slowing the decay of this nation. This is pathetic in my book and turns my stomach.

I will vote and support who I think it best for the Constitution and Freedom whether anyone else does or NOT.

That is what liberty is all about, and we have forgotten that.

[edit on 1-9-2008 by KrazyJethro]

posted on Sep, 2 2008 @ 07:46 AM
..And over in the UK we have these halfwits


i WISH i was making this up.
i really, really, really do

posted on Sep, 2 2008 @ 08:43 AM

Originally posted by shauny
..And over in the UK we have these halfwits


i WISH i was making this up.
i really, really, really do


Does showing a nations marginal oddities have a point? Here I thought this was a discussion.

posted on Sep, 2 2008 @ 08:51 AM
reply to post by The Vagabond

To tell you the truth third party candidates are the las honest and clean democratic left over that surrounded our corrupted politics today.

But you are right they make it look like they are a waste of American votes as the two elitist main parties pay off by big interest in this nation are wealthy enough to keep with propaganda the electorate from even taking any of them into consideration.

Is actually a shame, In America election are not longer a democratic process.

You either have corrupted party one vs corrupted party two and both of them are one and the same.

posted on Sep, 2 2008 @ 08:53 AM

Originally posted by KrazyJethro

Originally posted by shauny
..And over in the UK we have these halfwits


i WISH i was making this up.
i really, really, really do


Does showing a nations marginal oddities have a point? Here I thought this was a discussion.

we were talking about 3rd parties, the question was "is it a waste"
i say no. i think its very healthy to have lots of options.

i just felt compelled to share this to the US people.

why ?

only god knows.

posted on Sep, 2 2008 @ 11:52 AM
reply to post by Ian McLean

Bob Barr was on the Colbert Report last week and stated he was on all 48 continental states' ballots. He isn't on Alaska or Hawaii.

posted on Sep, 3 2008 @ 06:44 PM
That's a fine thing KrazyJethro and I'm not suggesting that you should settle for the lesser evil between the big two.

I'm suggesting that if the third parties are going to accept your support, they owe it to you not only to speak of the right issues in the right way for you, but to organize and plan their efforts in a way that gives them the power to actually implement policy in the way right for you.

They can't implement policy by spending money on losing presidential campaigns. It might be wrong for people to so readily believe that a major parties tent is really big enough for so many different interests, but it is reality nevertheless. Seeking to change that reality does not mean that you disregard it. It means you work within the parameters of that reality to achieve change in it.

Just one of many hypotheticals: How powerful would the Libertarian Party be if the majority of Iowans were represented in their state legislature by Libertarians, were happy with that representation, and went to the Iowa Caucus looking for Libertarian principles? They wouldn't need to be powerful enough to win the Presidency to begin creating a real influence in what kind of Presidents this nation elected. All they'd have to do is each election, bring the greatest amount of resources and their best people to bear on a few assembly districts each election, and grow a base of power over the course of a decade or two.

That's realistic. Making the support of the Libertarian party a make or break qualification for Republican presidential candidates within the next 20 years is a realistic goal. But that's not what they're pursuing. On the avenue they are on right now, a realistic goal for the Libertarian party is to still exist in 20 years.

Third parties must fight JUST TO EXIST in their current incarnation. 3 different third parties have lost their ballot access in California in the last 12 years. Only one of them managed to get it back. And they've got nobody to blame but themselves, because the bar isn't set that high. Granted it's set a heck of a lot lower for Republicans and Democrats, but that doesn't change the fact you'd practically have to just stop trying in order to lose your party's qualification once you're strong enough to get it.


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