Is Voting Third Party for President in 2016 a Good Idea? Here are a Few Things to Consider
This does not preclude voting for third parties at the local and state levels, which is where third party power needs to grow before a presidential campaign could win.
Is Voting Third Party for President in 2016 a Good Idea? Here are a Few Things to Consider
By gblues / dailykos.com
Jul 29, 2016

Since Hillary clinched the 2016 Democratic nomination, and particularly since the DNC e-mails were leaked by WikiLeaks, a significant number of “Bernie or Bust” types have been pledging support for voting third party—either for the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson, or the Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein. Between the two, Gary has capitalized better. His advertisements on Facebook preach to the disaffected: “If everyone who claimed to want a third party voted for me, I’d win!”

To borrow from an insurance commercial, “That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works!” There’s two big problems with the bill of goods that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are trying to sell.

First, they both grossly overstate their potential. Political identity in the United States is complicated. According to the Pew Research Center, The pool of self-identified independent voters is larger than either Republicans and Democrats; but despite not being card-carrying members, they still tend to lean towards one party or another. With leanings factored in, 87% of Americans identify either directly or indirectly towards either the Republican or Democrat parties. That leaves 13% of the voting population to divvy up among third party, which ties into the second issue: party size and influence.

Second, the viability of a third party Presidential campaign is directly tied to the size and influence of the third party in question. A Presidential campaign timeline looks something like this (immensely simplified):

Step 1: Announce you are running.

Step 2: Win your party.

Step 3: Win enough Electoral College votes to win the national election.

If you are a Republican or Democrat, Step 3 is merely difficult—you have a pretty sizeable base, and you are pretty much guaranteed that some subset of that party base is going to vote for you no matter what, so winning means adding to that base in the right parts of the country to get enough votes. For any third party, they have no base to start from, which means their entire strategy revolves around Democrat and Republican attrition. In other words, they have to do twice as much work as your average Republican or Democratic candidate. In today’s political climate, a third party has zero chance of winning the election.

How does a third party truly have a chance? By growing the base large enough so that your built-in support base is comparable to the others. Large enough that you can win significant numbers of governor seats and Congress seats. And this is something that neither the Green Party nor the Libertarian party has done, or will have done between now and November. Instead, they treat the Presidential race as an advertising campaign for their party, hoping to draw in a few more disenfranchised Republican or Democrat voters.

Let’s put this in concrete terms for Gary Johnson, the only third party blipping on the national poll radar. The current projections at fivethirtyeight as of this writing give Gary Johnson 0.6 electoral votes—in other words, he’ll be lucky to get a single Electoral College vote anywhere in the country. But it also gives him 7.7% of the popular vote. Right now, those same projections have a  1.4% gap between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, which means that the 7.7% of the population tilting at windmills to get a single Electoral College vote for Gary Johnson could very easily put Donald Trump in the White House.

Even if we graciously entertain the scenario where Gary Johnson wins the election: what happens next? His party has no influence in Congress, making him even less effective in office as Bernie Sanders would be.

The Democratic Party right now is like the school of tuna caught in the fish net in “Finding Nemo.” The tuna begin to panic in fear, running in all directions at once, pushing and shoving and getting upset with each other—all while the motor on the fishing boat begins lifting the net. Individually, they get nowhere. Now, I’m going to channel Dory for a little bit.

#NeverTrump only works if everyone votes for the same candidate. If the alternate parties continue grass-roots efforts to build strength, then there will come an election cycle when voting third party will make political sense. But it is not this cycle. We are stronger together, with Hillary—just keep swimming.

1.5 ·
2
Trending Today
What Happens When You Rebel Against the Herd
Sofo Archon · 19,439 views today · Are You Truly Living Your Life? You live, but are you living the way you want to live, or the way others want you to live? You choose, but are your choices based on...
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
Soraya Chemaly · 7,939 views today · "Stop interrupting me."  "I just said that." "No explanation needed." In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My...
How Norway Avoided Becoming a Fascist State
George Lakey · 4,391 views today · Instead of falling to the Nazi party, Norway broke through to a social democracy. Their history shows us polarization is nothing to despair over.
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 4,073 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Murdoch and Trump, Sitting at the Tee, S-C-H-E-M-I-N-G
Frankie Boyle · 3,919 views today · Say what you like about Donald Trump but he's already done things people said were impossible, like made Twitter worse. Looking back, the Harambe situation is the closest...
The Coming War on China
John Pilger · 3,906 views today · A major US military build-up – including nuclear weapons – is under way in Asia and the Pacific with the purpose of confronting China. John Pilger raises the alarm on an...
Artificial Ethics and the Search for Intelligence
5 min · 2,151 views today · How to stop a robot turning evil.  It's 2027 and Mental Endeavours Ltd has a problem with their flagship robot Günther. How do you program an intelligent machine not to...
Everything We Think We Know About Addiction Is Wrong
6 min · 2,131 views today · What causes addiction? Easy, right? Drugs cause addiction. But maybe it is not that simple. This video is adapted from Johann Hari's New York Times best-selling book 'Chasing...
Real Underground Kingdom That Has Existed for Millions of Years Went Unnoticed, Until Recently...
Kid Krunk · 1,906 views today · 28 Stunning Photos Of The World’s Largest Cave
What Would It Take to Stop the Raids?
CrimethInc. Ex-Workers Collective · 1,741 views today · Responding Effectively to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Attacks
Thich Nhat Hanh: How We Can Learn to Love Our Enemies
5 min · 1,203 views today · This is a short excerpt from Peacemaking. I often think about this story when I think about the kind of activism I would like to bring into this world. I want to help build a...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 1,196 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Simple Social Experiment Shows We Are More Than The Boxes People Put Us In
3 min · 1,154 views today · We live in a time where we are quick to put people in boxes. Maybe we have more in common than what we think?
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,066 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
I Am Not Your Negro (2017)
3 min · 1,041 views today · In his new film, director Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished - a radical narration about race in America, using the writer's original words. He draws...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 785 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 757 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 714 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 688 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Surviving Capitalist Depression
Michael Emero · 539 views today · We live in a toxic society filled with toxic people. Even the ones with the best hearts- including ourselves- have been raised in ignorance, with disinformation. Our examples...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Is Voting Third Party for President in 2016 a Good Idea? Here are a Few Things to Consider