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 /

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 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
F*ck That: A Guided Meditation for the Realities of Today's World
2 min · 11,413 views today · Just acknowledge that all that sh*t is f*cking b*llshit — you're here now, in this place, with your inner stillness. Take in a deep breath ... now breathe out. Just feel the...
Free Trade Explained In An Excellent Comic
Michael Goodwin, Illustrated by Dan E. Burr · 6,691 views today · The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are the latest in a long line...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 5,965 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...
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 5,773 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
Who I'm Voting For...
3 min · 4,667 views today · Prince Ea announces who he's voting for. It's probably not who you think.
Open Up - Have the Difficult But Important Conversations With Loved Ones
5 min · 3,712 views today · “The biggest casualty of humanity is the lack of communication, it’s the thing that breaks most relationships. It just feels so much better to talk and get it out.” There is...
Inside the Invisible Government: John Pilger on War, Propaganda, Clinton and Trump
John Pilger · 2,816 views today · The American journalist, Edward Bernays, is often described as the man who invented modern propaganda. The nephew of Sigmund Freud, the pioneer of psycho-analysis, it was...
Democracy in the Digital Era
Birgitta Jonsdottir · 2,339 views today · Our current democratic models are crumbling and outdated. We need to make something more real and meaningful. Activist and politician Birgitta Jónsdóttir points to how it might...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,926 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...
25 Mind-Twisting Optical Illusion Paintings by Rob Gonsalves
Dovas · 1,642 views today · The beautiful and mind-bending illusions in Canadian artist Robert Gonsalves’ paintings have a fun way of twisting your perception and causing you to question what in his...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,512 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...
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change (2015)
11 min · 1,181 views today · Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday; or that chopping...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 1,090 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
#Hypernormalisation - Why Heathrow Plan Is Proof We Exist in a Catastrophic Fantasyland
Matthew Adams · 1,084 views today · The British government recently gave the green light for Heathrow airport’s third runway. It was heralded by its supporters as a vital boost for jobs and growth – and proof...
'Maritime Graveyard': 2016 Deadliest Year Ever for Refugees Crossing Mediterranean
Deirdre Fulton · 1,060 views today · "From one death for every 269 arrivals last year, in 2016 the likelihood of dying has spiraled to one in 88," says UNHCR spokesman
The Empire Vs. The People - Police Attack and Arrest Peaceful Protestors at the Dakota Access Pipeline
6 min · 790 views today · On October 22, just before dawn, hundreds of people, including many families, gathered and prepared to march toward the Dakota Access pipeline construction site near Standing...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 758 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Ode to Lesvos
5 min · 631 views today · An inspiring story of a few remarkable heroes on the Island of Lesvos who helped almost half a million refugees in 2015 has been documented in a new short film called Ode to...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 422 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
HyperNormalisation (2016)
161 min · 417 views today · We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Is Voting Third Party for President in 2016 a Good Idea? Here are a Few Things to Consider