Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Americans Really Dislike Trump, Clinton. So Why Aren't Third Parties Doing Better?

Americans Really Dislike Trump, Clinton. So Why Aren't Third Parties Doing Better?

The sad truth about third parties is that voting for them often tends to produce the opposite effect from what you intend. Let's assume Bernie Sanders decided to run as a third-party candidate. By voting for him, people would hand the election to Trump because Sanders and Clinton would split the liberal vote. By voting FAR left, they would cause the far right to win.

The most dramatic recent example of this happened in 2000, when twenty two thousand New Hampshire voters cast their ballots for Ralph Nader. Exit polls showed that few of them preferred George Bush, yet the loss of those votes cost Al Gore the state and therefore the Presidency. (And therefore started the war in Iraq. Thanks, Nader.) Yes, for all the talk of Florida, it was New Hampshire's measly four electoral votes that would have changed the result of the entire election!

In 1992, Ross Perot's impressive 19% showing had a powerful impact on the popular vote, but did not determine the winner. Exit polls generally showed that Perot siphoned votes about equally from both major candidates, and state-by-state analysis showed that Perot only made a difference in Ohio, which would have gone Republican without Perot's candidacy. The electoral votes from that state, if transferred from Clinton to Bush, would not have altered the outcome of the election.

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