What do major party results mean to the third party world?

When looking at major party candidates, sometimes I’m torn between hoping the marginally better one wins because it would be better for the country or hoping the worst one wins because it tends to help build third parties. I’m wondering how others feel about this general issue.

First, since John McCain has pretty much wrapped up the Republican Party delegates, I’m curious about what impact this will have on the GOP and how it will impact the third party vote.

I generally break the conservative movement into three general groups: Social conservatives, fiscal conservatives and those strong on defense/national greatness issues. McCain clearly has the support of the latter group, but falls very short with respect to the first two.

Question: Does anyone see any likelihood that the Republican Party could suffer a deep split over McCain’s pending nomination?

How could third party and independents best take advantage of McCain’s nomination?

Over on the left side of the aisle, it’s still pretty close between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The first question I have is whether progressives on the third party or independent side (i.e. Green Party members, Nader supports) would prefer for Obama or Clinton to win the nomination?

While most progressives within the Democratic Party seem to be rooting for Obama, are people in the third party world hoping for Clinton to win in order to strengthen their parties and boost their vote totals on Election Day?

Alternately, is there any significant difference between Obama and Clinton?

The mainstream media is billing this as a contest about race and gender. Is this an important factor to the typical reader of this site? If it is an important factor, which of the progressive independent or third party candidates is best positioned to exploit the situation?

Which matchup would be better for the third party world: McCain-Obama or McCain-Clinton?

Also, does anyone want to start making early third party vote total predictions for Election Day? I’m still too chicken, at least until I know who the third party nominees will be.

36 Responses to “What do major party results mean to the third party world?”

  1. Trent Hill Says:

    A Clinton nomination would certainly help the Green Party/Nader. Her vote for the war will turn off alot of peace voters who would otherwise have voted for Obama. Also, alot of black voters will be disenfrachised and will want to vote for another black—-a good reason to nominate McKinney. This would in turn help out the LP/CP because it could take away from the arguement that we are the “Spoilers”.

    The CP will benefit from a McCain nomination—he’s weak on social issues, on the border, he backed NAFTA and the War.
    The LP could benefit, if it leveraged right. The Patriot Act, the War, McCain-Feingold.

  2. hah Says:

    nader - 675,000
    libertarians - 380,000
    constitution - 265,000
    greens - 175,000

  3. Jason Gatties Says:

    As for the LP vote total this year, I depends largely on who the nominee is. Like it or not, if its Root or Barr, I could see the vote total being higher than Badnarik in 2004. If its Kubby, Phillies, Smith,Hess, etc, I see the vote count being lower than 04.

    Any way you slice it, we still won’t hit 1 million votes this year regardless.

  4. Jeff Wartman Says:

    Gordon: “I’m torn between hoping the marginally better one wins because it would be better for the country or hoping the worst one wins because it tends to help build third parties.”

    Usually, I am torn with the same dilemma. However, I believe with any of the major party candidates in this election, there is no “marginally better one”. All three are equally big government socialist.

  5. richard Says:

    You mentioned John McCain.
    Despite being a registered Republican, I am leaning toward hoping he loses, for the very reasons you mentioned. My rational is that, if he loses at least we’ll only have to wait four years for a chance at someone more socially and fiscally conservative. So I feel a willingness to sacrifice a slight betterment now for a chance at a much greater good in the future. It’s a risk, but one I think we need to take.

    In another way, it’s like having to chose between internal betrayal and corruption and an outright external war.

  6. Roscoe Says:

    Trent Hill, we want to be the spoilers. Until the LP achieves the balance of power, it will remain largely un-noticed and irrelevant.

  7. Sean Scallon Says:

    The LP and CP have the opportunity now with McCain nomination and his subsequent 100 years war campaign to pick up not just votes from disaffected Republicans, but more importantly pick up activists and volunteers who can help them win local races in the future. That’s what will be important for the future.

  8. Derek Says:

    I wonder what would happen if the following happened: the Democrats nominate Clinton thanks to the super-delegates, even though Obama won the most pledged delegates up to the Convention. I think if the race is Clinton vs McCain, we could see the Greens, Libertarians and Constitutionalists take advantage of this. I wouldn’t be surprised if Paul decides to run as an independent. In a way it’s good that Bloomberg officially stated that he won’t run as an independent candidate.

  9. Derek Says:

    Also, imagine this for the election. The LP and CP go after the social and fiscal conservatives (first one for the LP, both for the CP). The GP goes after the Obama voters if Clinton is the nominee.

  10. David F. Nolan Says:

    Any attempt to predict third-party vote totals at this point is pure guesswork. The outcome will depend on who the Demos nominate, how close the race between the R & D candidates is being seen right before election day, and a host of other variables.

    If the Demos nominate Hillary, I think a lot of Repos will return to the fold and vote for McCain just because they hate the Clintons so much. If the Demos choose Obama, that visceral hate factor will be missing and a lot more Repos will sit it out or vote for a third party candidate.

    Nader is yesterday’s news. Day before yesterday’s, actually. I don’t see him getting a lot of votes - probably less than he did in ‘04. The LP and CP candidates could do better than last time, but that depends on who they run, among other factors.

    If Ron Paul were to run (and he says, repeatedly, that he won’t) he could do about as well as John Anderson did in 1980 - 6%. No other third-party candidate (including Nader) is likely to do as well. More in the 1% to 3% range, at best; probably less. But right now, it’s all just speculation.

  11. will Says:

    if clinton is the nominee the greens might build up their party a bit and expand its based to be much more diverse. the LP may do better this time around since ron paul brought out all their issues, the CP will do a lot better this time around. i just hope the greens do better than the nader vote.

  12. disinter Says:

    It will be McKook vs the Hildabeast, as planned. Both very divisive statists planted for the sole purpose of fooling the retarded masses into thinking there is a difference between the two. They are careful not to nominate anyone that is a little on the free-thinking side, out of fear they might not be easily controlled - so we are stuck with complete idiots

    Third parties will be irrelevant, as usual (and, also as planned).

    You people act like this is all spontaneous or some shit.

  13. Dave Williams Says:

    nader - 675,000
    libertarians - 380,000
    constitution - 265,000
    greens - 175,000

    The Nader Party(NP)....The Nader Liberation Front(NLF)....Peoples Republic of Nader(R-NAD)....The Nader Coalition of Concerned Consumers(NCC-1701)....

  14. Steven R. Linnabary Says:

    As Mr. Nolan states above, this is all pure guesswork.

    A lot also depends on who McCain chooses for VP. John Kasich would certainly move a lot of libertarian leaning repugs over to McCain. By the same token, if McCain declares Huckabee to be his AG nominee, those same people will avoid the ticket.


  15. Dave Williams Says:

    Question: “Does anyone see any likelihood that the Republican Party could suffer a deep split over McCain’s pending nomination?”

    A few us bailed, some folks I know aren’t even going to vote this cycle…I think Richard is right on with most GOPer’s who will not leave the party. I’m not sure how deep the split will go, but the GOP to me became a waste of time many years ago…WTF is a ‘Compassionate Conservative’? (Please don’t answer that Eric, it’s a rhetorical question, shitbrick.)

    Here’s what I did the other day and what I will be doing in November…

    “Went to the polls this morning here in Houston…waded through the Obama wave…no line at the Repubs machines…entered my access code and subMITTed my GOP protest vote…ignored the rest of the GOPers on the ballot…answered ‘yes’ to three common sense questions…my fav, “Do you want folks to show their ID to vote”, holy crap, like duh…anyway, it’s good to be a Texan…I’ll be able to vote for anyone in the general, maybe W.A.R. if he’s the LPer’s nominee… www.rootforamerica.com”

    Some of you are going to be concerned that I waived my right to participate in the LP conventions, I had chosen to vote for Mitt in October and I always follow through with my coMITTments.

  16. Ayn R. Key Says:

    Given how almost completely alike Hillary and McCain are, the best thing for third parties on both sides is to hope for that particular matchup. Greens can play up “she’s McCain in a dress” and Lib and Cons can play up “he’s Hillary in a suit.”

  17. richard Says:

    Who knows what will happen.
    I’d say the party only matters if you’re running for public office.
    I mean, I haven’t made any great commitment by becoming a Republican.
    In fact, after my banishment from Redstate, I’d hesitate to admit actually being Republican. I’m a conservative. And that’s not a capital C.

  18. Dave Williams Says:

    Richard this is one of the few sites I visit where just about anything goes, thanks Gordon. Politico is a joke, and so are some of the other candidate specific sites I posted at recently. What happened at Redstate?

  19. Gene Berkman Says:

    It looks like the Presidential race will be closer than it should be, given Bush’s immense unpopularity. At the lower level, I think Republicans are really going to suffer in races for Congress. It will be years before the Republicans are competitive for control of Congress.

    The Libertarian Party (and the Constitution Party) should work to create stronger local organizations, and run stronger candidates for Congress. Now we have an additional issue - vote LP to make sure there is an opposition to the Democratic dominance of Congress.

    Everybody hoping for a big protest vote in the Presidential race is likely to be disappointed. Once again we will have many drop out of LP activism after our candidate for President gets little more than a protest vote. But build locally to maintain opposition in the coming one party government.

  20. Ferenc Says:

    Welcome to our stuped world. Obama or Hillary going to make it,one way or another. Don’t forget we have many dam Dem. who no matter what vote dem. I said many times. Must start in the congress,and senate.
    Some of them have to quit from their partry,and people in they districk have to fallow them into a third or independent party.

    God Bless,and pray,maybe we still can save our nation.

  21. Robert Capozzi Says:

    I sorta agree with Co-Founder Nolan. Way early to guess how the LP candidate will do. That’s mostly because the candidate isn’t selected. McCain does open up a lot of protest potential by the econ-cons and by the social cons. Defense cons are pretty much gonna vote McCain, it would seem. Of course, the 3 factions aren’t mutually exclusive. I’d suggest that Obama is better than Hillary for the LP, as Hillary galvanizes Rs who’d consider a protest vote. There may well be an anti-war vote that Obama’s probably better positioned to take, but my sense is that the LP candidate won’t get many of those, esp. with Nader in the race.

    I continue to believe that a Barr candidacy could exceed the LP’s highest total, and could even get as much as 10% if things break exactly “right.” If pro-choice (with reservations), but that he’s pro-life is a plus.

    All bets are off with a major terrorist or economic event, even for the Barr prospect…in a bad way.

  22. Scott Says:

    It seems to me that the major opening for a third party is on the Right. The Ron Paul candidacy has demonstrated points of convergence between Constitution party types, Libertarian party types, conservative anti-war activists, Buchananites, and immigration opponents. There seems to be tremendous dissatisfaction with both Bush and McCain. Bob Barr might be a figure that could come closer to appealing to the Constitution/conservative types who dislike McCain, although I understand he’s been gradually moving toward a more Libertarian than conservative Republican stance over the past few years.

    Barr is an interesting thought, but a major third party move from the Right would probably need a more nationally recognized figure like Paul or Buchanan. But the bottom line is people need to compromise and pool their energies if they really want to cause problems for McCain and the Dems.

    I think it doesn’t look good for Left third parties this year. Especially given that activists will once again be divided between Nader and McKinney (not to mention the Socialist candidates). If Clinton beats Obama, then maybe something will get going. But unless disaster strikes, I wouldn’t bet on any third party on the left exceeding Nader’s 2000 tally. If Obama wins then (barring catastrophe) neither Nader or McKinney will exceed a half percentage point.

  23. David Gaines Says:

    Scott: The problem is that, with the sole exceptions of Thurmond ‘48 and Wallace ‘68, the far right is notoriously compliant when it comes to the Republican Party, whereas the left has a long & proud tradition of bickering, sniping, and storming out of the Democratic Party. The various right wing 3rd parties around today are almost all variants on or descendants of George Wallace’s 1968 campaign, and they have never gotten the national traction that the Green Party, Socialist Party, etc. have because when it comes down to election day, conservatives overwhelmingly act pragmatically and either vote Republican or stay home. That’s why Pat Buchanan didn’t even come close to being the drain on the right in 2000 that Ralph Nader was on the left.

    It would be a lot easier for leftists like me to work on national campaigns for the Green Party, Socialist Party, Nader, etc. if our comrades in the Constitution Party, Reform Party, American Party, etc. would live up to their end of the bargain and make life as tough for the Republicans for once as we make it for the Democrats. ;-)

  24. Eric Dondero Says:

    Steven Linnaberry is precisely correct. This basically all depends on who McCain chooses as his VP. If he moves in the libertarian direction, than libertarian Republicans will be inclined to vote McCain/???. If he moves in the social conservative direction, especially if it’s Root or Barr someone acceptable to Republicans, libertarian-leaners will vote Libertarian Party.

    The very latest word is that Sarah Palin is out cause she’s, um, well… 6 months pregnent.

    The newest name to pop up is Chris Cox of California. Why is Cox significant? Cause he’s like best buddies with the Orange County Libertarian Party, most especially Bruce Cohen. If McCain chooses Cox, won’t matter who the LP runs. Only diehards will cast a protest vote for the LP. The vast majority of the libertarian movement will vote McCain/Cox.

  25. Eric Dondero Says:

    I’m starting to pick up that even hardened McCain critics from a month ago on the Right, are starting to warm up to the guy. He’s making all the right moves, (no pun intended).

    He even said something the other day that warmed my heart. He adopted the “Giuliani” 50 state strategy and said that as a Republican he was going to run agressively in all the states, INCLUDING CALIFORNIA!!

    Finally! A GOP Presidential candidate who pledges to run a full campaign in our Nation’s largest State. I’m not at all ready to jump on the McCain bandwagon. But he’s at least sound the right tune to win over hardened skeptics like me.

  26. Sean Scallon Says:

    Mr. Rittberg if a so-called Libertarian like you can find reasons to support Guliani and Romney, then you’ll be kissing McCain’s ass in no time.

  27. Preston Says:

    First of all, I still think Nader will do the best of all third-party/independents on the ballot. And that is merely because of name recognition, which will give him media coverage. I’ve already seen him on Meet the Press, Hardball, The Daily Show, and Democracy NOW. People know the guy. They love him. They hate him. He will be the most talked about Third Party candidate (barring someone else jumping in), and so will get the most votes (unfortunately for liberals).

    “Alternately, is there any significant difference between Obama and Clinton?”
    No. And I don’t just mean that in a Nader “they are all run by corporate interests” way. I mean if you go to their respective websites, their proposals are identical or nearly identical on almost everything. Clinton will win the nomination because she has a negative personality. Why will that make her win? Because now that the GOP race is over, Republicans will come out in droves in the final primaries to vote for her to give McCain a better chance. I’ve already heard about this happening.
    Really, it doesn’t matter. I mean, I like Obama better, but its only because of his personality. They are both proposing some wild things; and though I agree with a lot of them, they will never get congress to pass the legislation required.

  28. Andy Says:

    “Eric Dondero Says:

    March 6th, 2008 at 9:36 pm
    I’m starting to pick up that even hardened McCain critics from a month ago on the Right, are starting to warm up to the guy. He’s making all the right moves, (no pun intended).

    He even said something the other day that warmed my heart. He adopted the “Giuliani” 50 state strategy and said that as a Republican he was going to run agressively in all the states, INCLUDING CALIFORNIA!!

    Finally! A GOP Presidential candidate who pledges to run a full campaign in our Nation’s largest State. I’m not at all ready to jump on the McCain bandwagon. But he’s at least sound the right tune to win over hardened skeptics like me.”

    I wonder how long it is going to be before Dondero starts “Libertarians for McCain.”

  29. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Preston, I hear ya, but I dunno. Nader’s going fully independent this time, no? So, getting on the ballot in many states will significantly dampen his vote totals. If Obama is the D nominee, I’m not seeing many liberals protesting by writing in Nader. And he’s becoming a Stassen-type figure…after a while, it gets grating running for prez, esp. when the left blames Nader on giving us W.

  30. Green in Brooklyn Says:

    He even said something the other day that warmed my heart. He adopted the “Giuliani” 50 state strategy and said that as a Republican he was going to run agressively in all the states, INCLUDING CALIFORNIA!!


    I can only assume you are speaking in jest, as Giuliani’s 1/2 state strategy (south Florida) panned out so well for his campaign.

    Rethugs always make noises about campaigning in California, and after a few fundraisers in Orange County see the reality on the ground and head south, just as it will this time around.

    I too am torn, as I think a nasty next couple of weeks between Obama and Clinton ending with a nasty convention win for Hillary could move alot of disgruntled Obama supporters to take a look at hsi more experienced anti-war pro-impeachement collegue from Georgia (McKinney).

    I also agree with David Gaines that we’ll have more luck building a party on the left if you all can build a party on the libertarian side that actually gets some votes in the presidential race. We need a third AND 4th party to make them both succeed.

  31. David Gaines Says:

    Robert Capozzi:

    Grating for whom? Nader? He doesn’t seem to mind. And people who are pro-3rd party/anti-restrictive ballot access are hardly in a position to complain about him, or anyone, running. The GPUS has, in fact, issued an official statement welcoming him to the race and wishing him well.

    By the way, the Ralph Nader/Harold Stassen comparisons that have been popping up around the ‘net are sad, especially so on a website called Third Party Watch.

    A far more appropriate comparison would be with Norman Thomas, who was actually the nominee of a party and campaigned in general elections (six of them, as a Socialist), something Stassen never did. Norman Thomas influenced millions of people and left a legacy of social justice behind that resonates to this day. Harold Stassen was a one-time player in the moderate wing of the Republican Party who essentially left nothing behind except a few approving nods from a handful of historians who either specialize in Minnesota history or Republican Party history.

    There is all kinds of blame to go around for “giving us W.” “The left,” simply because it’s intellectually lazy and vacuous, keeps myopically ignoring the numerous other variables that have now become so obvious they’re finally starting to appear in mainstream op-eds (Gore failing to win his home state, African-American disenfranchisement in Florida, other left wing 3rd party candidates on the ballot in Florida, Jeb Bush & Katherine Harris, etc. etc.)

  32. Ayn R. Key Says:

    Yes, Eric, we know that you consider statist McCain too soft after your man crush on neocon Giuliani. But if you can think Giuliani is a “mainstream libertarian republican” it won’t take long for you to discover that McCain is a “mainstream libertarian republican” and that Hillary is a “mainstream libertarian democrat”.

  33. Winston on Truth Says:

    What is missing in this article is the fact that most American voters are angry and weary of the current two-party system. If Americans can be brainwashed into thinking they can vote only for a Democrat or Republican then they can also be CLEANSED of that evil notion.

    It’s time Americans took back OUR country, read the Federalist Papers, and re-institute our REPUBLIC to take it back from the liberal socialist globalists’ (McCain, Clinton, Obama, Huckabee) agenda which is destroying our national sovereignty. It’s not too late but within 10 years it will be if we sit back and do nothing like a herd of lemmings.

    John McCain is but another George W. Bush deceiver. A wolf in another cloak.

    It’s time for a real third-party alliance. If you don’t agree, then at least rebel against the two-party system by WRITING IN YOUR PERSONAL CANDIDATES ON EACH BALLOT - LOCAL, STATE, OR NATIONAL. Don’t continue voting for EVIL.

  34. Ferenc Says:



    But we have a lot of stuped who vote for them anyway.
    I don’t know why only one third party candidate run from the right,and one from the left on the national level. Every third and independent party member can run on the state level. All of this doing nothing,going nowhere third and ind. parties must join together on the national level. That is the only way,maybe.

    God Bless

  35. M Says:

    I’m rooting for Obama myself, simply because he’s the best candidate of the “big three,” so to speak. I vote for the candidate, not their party—if my party (Libertarian) doesn’t end up with someone I like more than Obama, and if no other party had anyone I liked better, either, I’d vote for him instead.

  36. Ferenc Says:

    Hi M

    You one of the person who I mentioned. Read again “who are vote for them anyway”

    God Bless, and PLEASE GOD save us from the president with a Hussein middle name

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