Bailouts and Third Party Possibilities

by J. Bradley Jansen

Recent scientific public opinion polls show independent Ralph Nader and Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr attracting statistically significant support nationwide, and both are on nearly all state ballots. In various states, their votes will likely determine which candidate gets a plurality. Real Clear Politics and provide useful collections of national polls: Nader and Barr for RCP and Nader, Barr and McKinney for Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney, like Barr, served in the US House of Representatives. If Cynthia McKinney is included in polls, she gets no more than 1% support nationwide and is on the ballot in 32 states with 368 electoral votes. Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin is on the ballot in 37 states with 318 electoral votes, but the only poll where I have found any Baldwin support was 0.1% back in August (the same poll also had American Independent Party candidate Alan Keyes at 0.7% who is on the ballot in 3 states with 91 electoral votes). Baldwin in 2008 has about the same support as Michael Peroutka and Charles Baldwin got last time with 144,499 popular votes and 0.12%—although he is on the ballot for fewer Americans this time so the total will likely be lower especially with Keyes splitting the vote.

The Libertarian Party’s high water mark was in 1980 when Ed Clark got 1.1% of the vote and 921,299 popular votes. Ron Paul in 1988 and Harry Browne in 1996 both received about half that level of support. With high name recognition and aggressive media appearances, Bob Barr was polling in the mid-single digits in national polls over the summer hitting 6% in a June Rasmussen poll, 4% in a June LA Times/Bloomberg poll and 2-3% in other national polls over the early summer. Then Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader got an impressive 2,883,105 popular votes and 2.73% in 2000 but also hit 6% in several nationwide polls this June and July.

The Democracy Corps poll (conducted September 28nd-30th and released October 1st) has Nader holding steady at 2% and Barr’s support hovering between 1-2% from the previous apples-to-apples comparison. It also the only poll to include “Constitution Party/Louisiana Taxpayer Party candidate Ron Paul” who is on the ballot in two states with 12 electoral votes, but he consistently gets zero percent of the vote both nationwide and in selected battleground states. Support for Baldwin would seem to be negligible since the poll does explicitly include the Constitution Party candidate Ron Paul (who has affirmatively asked state Secretaries of State to remove his name from the ballot). It is doubtful that Baldwin’s support would be higher than Ron Paul’s who acts as the party standard bearer in the poll.

A (D)/Research 2000 poll during the same dates has Barr and Nader with 2%. The results have remained steady. The Daily Kos poll also shows some very useful crosstab information: Barr has 2% in every geographic region of the country, has 3% of the male vote but only 1% of the female vote, 2% of Republicans and 4% of independents and 3% of “other” and whites, and 4% of 30-44 year olds. No other (minor party/independent) candidate gets 4% of any crosstab except for Barr. Nader gets even support from men and women, and his best crosstab is 3% from independents. The poll is weighted with only 26% Republicans (notably lower than most other polls: Rasmussen’s sample includes 33.4% Republicans, e.g.) so the numbers are probably even better for Barr and Nader. (Scientific public opinion polls often use a two or three-day rolling averages with some margin of error so the magnitude of the changes should be taken with a grain of salt—especially for daily tracking polls.)

The most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted September 27-29th shows the (major) minor party candidates doing well. Barr’s support doubled from 1% to 2% while Nader also gained one point to 3% (a 50% increase) compared to the same poll a week earlier. In the poll ending the 29th, Barr’s support among likely voters and registered voters holds at 2% in both camps (up from 1% for both likely voters and registered voters in the same poll ending September 22nd). On the other hand, Nader’s support fell from 4% of registered voters to only 3% when likely voters were considered (his support in both categories increased by 1% from the previous poll). This data indicates that Barr’s support is “firmer” than the support for Nader (who is probably benefiting from higher name identification among those less likely to actually show up at the polls).

A Zogby (Internet) poll conducted September 26th & 27th put Barr at 3.7% with Nader at 1% and McKinney at 0.6%. In the Zogby internet poll, Democratic presidential nominee Barak Obama’s support drops from 47.1% in a two-way matchup with McCain to 46.4% in a five-way race (a drop of only 0.7%) while McCain’s support falls from 45.9% against only Obama to 43.4% when the minor party candidates are included. McCain’s loss of two-and-a-half points is four times greater than Obama’s drop indicating that McCain should be more threatened by the minor parties than his Democratic rival. “Other/not sure” slips from 7.0% to 4.8% when the minor parties are included.

The national polls conducted September 19th to the 22nd include an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that put Nader at a solid 5% and Barr again at 2%. A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll provides a breakdown both of likely versus registered voters but also some crosstab information for Nader, Barr and McKinney: Nader gets the support of 2% of registered and likely voters, 6% of independents, 1% each from Democrats and Republicans, 2% from liberals and moderates and 3% of conservatives, 3% of whites and men but only 2% of women; Barr gets 1% of registered and likely voters, liberals and women but 2% of independents and Republicans, moderates and conservatives, whites and men; McKinney got 0% of registered voters, liberals and moderates, whites and women, but she got 1% among likely voters, independents and Republicans, conservatives and men; neither McKinney nor Barr got any statistically measurable support from Democrats. Similarly, a CNN/Opinion Research poll on the same dates has Nader at 4% and Barr and McKinney at 1% with Americans blaming the Republicans over the Democrats for the financial crisis by a margin of 2-to-1.

This year is shaping up to be a banner year for third party candidates. Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr is set break all party records, and Ralph Nader is also polling well. Obama’s support is relatively firmer than McCain’s. That not only Barr—but Nader and McKinney—are drawing their support from what should be McCain voters does not bode well for the Republican nominee.

J. Bradley Jansen was a legislative staffer for U.S. Congressman Ron Paul from 1997-2001. He is director of the Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights of the Liberty and Privacy Network (but views expressed here are his own), which is part of Bob Barr’s Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances.

31 Responses to “Bailouts and Third Party Possibilities”

  1. baldwin Says:

    You are on crack if you think Baldwin will get less than votes this year than he got in 2004. He will easily get 3-4% of the vote with Ron Paul endorsement.

  2. baldwin Says:

    You are on crack if you think Baldwin will get less than votes this year than he got in 2004. He will easily get 3-4% of the vote with Ron Paul endorsement.

  3. GREEN DAD Says:

    Today is another important day for us and we have an obligation to act.

    This evening, the U.S. Senate is going to vote on the bailout in another attempt to ram it through Congress.

    They need to hear from you.

    Here’s today’s task: Call your Senators!

    The Senate web sites have been overwhelmed with people emailing in (which from my experience is a wasted effort). We need to pick up the phone and call.

    So here’s the task:

    Find your state’s senators at:

    Hi, my name is———————, and I’m a resident of—————————.

    I’m writing to voice my strong opposition to ANY financial bailout. Government regulations caused our problems on Wall Street and the bailout will force my family to shoulder the burden of government’s failure. Vote no on the bailout.

    Instead, I ask that you ease regulations like ‘mark to market’ standards and STOP your attempts at social engineering by rewarding lenders who make bad loans.

  4. Bradley in DC Says:

    Baldwin, it seems your critical thinking and poll analysis skills are no better than your grammar. If you have something substantive to add, I’d be happy to entertain it.


    Baldwin fails to see the reality that regardless of actual support for Baldwin out there, Chuck is only on 37 ballots and he will not be on the most populous ballots such as California, Texas and North Carolina.
    I know facts hurt sometimes, but Baldwin and McKinney has not shown up in any polls thus far.

  6. David Gaines Says:

    Bradley: Agreed. 3% of the vote will equal about 3.1 million votes. Most of America has no clue that Ron Paul endorsed Chuck Baldwin, or would even care. Even more of America has never even heard of Chuck Baldwin. For this candidate, with or without Ron Paul, to poll more votes this year in 37 states—representing a smaller total population than the number of states on which he was on the ballot in 2004—than one of the most famous people in American history, Ralph Nader, polled in 2000 in 43 states… do the math.

    In any event, the overanalysis that pervades this article is fundamentally silly, since the percentages we’re talking about here are so tiny they’re almost all within the margin of error (e.g. “Nader also gained one point to 3% (a 50% increase)”.....WOW! A 50% INCREASE!) and the support expressed in these polls for 3rd party candidates is traditionally very soft anyway. If, in the battleground states (which are the only ones that matter), Obama and McCain go to Election Day with the tracking polls showing them in a dead heat, forget about Nader, Barr, and all the rest. There will be a nationwide epidemic of cold feet in the voting booths.

  7. David Gaines Says:

    Diamond Dave: Cynthia McKinney has shown up in several polls, ranging from 0.5% to 2%, based on the poll and the date it was taken. One of the problems with these polls is the way the questions are usually framed. IN some cases, e.g. Washington Post polling, you have to volunteer your own support for a 3rd party candidate since they typically only give you Obama and McCain from which to choose. This is actually reflected in the detailed poll results, with a “(VOL)” next to the percentage next to “Other” (which is how they usually do it…...lump all the volunteered, non-scripted responses for Nader, Barr, etc. into “Other”).

  8. Allen Says:

    You have to remember that Baldwin won’t be listed on the California, Texas and New York ballots. Most of the votes for the CP came from California in 2004.

  9. Richgriffin Says:

    My view is that the best thing possible for alternative parties is for McCain to implode, for Obama to be the clear winner towards the end, so voters can get over their less evilist arguments and vote for alternative parties. We can only get the support levels we need in an election cycle which is not close on the presidential level.

  10. Jonathan Says:

    There are only 2 candidates who should be covered by the media but they are not, see:

  11. George Whitfield Says:

    I just sent another contribution to the Libertarian Party and will be handing out Bob Barr leaflets to shoppers this Saturday afternoon. Lets make it our best Presidential candidate result in history.

  12. Jonathan Says:

    Thanks George, I echo your statement

  13. Cody Quirk Says:

    Baldwin fails to see the reality that regardless of actual support for Baldwin out there, Chuck is only on 37 ballots and he will not be on the most populous ballots such as California, Texas and North Carolina.

    = FYI, Baldwin has write-in status in California, Texas, New York, Georgia, Maine, Conn., Indiana, Penn., Arizona, New Hampshire, and Montana.

    And also, Peroutka was on in only 36 states, so the author here is inacurrate stating that we’re on in less states.

  14. Johnny Says:

    For some reason there is an extra lack of coverage of Chuck Baldwin. Barr and Nader get most of the limited third party ink. McKinney gets less than that, and Baldwin is seemingly nonexistent.

  15. Craig Says:

    Everyone whose Representative voted for the Enron-style Wall Street bailout should vote for a Libertarian in their Congressional race. That would end the bailouts for good.

    Of course, most people will say “what choice do we have, the system is rigged”, and not use the choice they actually do have.

  16. Bradley in DC Says:


    The author (myself) is correct: I said Baldwin will be on the ballot for fewer Americans. I gave a link to Richard Winger’s post giving the numbers.

    If you want to create a strawman by misquoting me (saying I said “fewer states” when I didn’t), you can go have enjoyable conversations with yourself. Don’t let any of us here interrupt you.

  17. Brandon Magoon Says:

    FYI, Baldwin has write-in status in California, Texas, New York, Georgia, Maine, Conn., Indiana, Penn., Arizona, New Hampshire, and Montana.

    Cody, you need to check your facts a little better. I’m an election official in Pennsylvania. There is no such thing as write in status here. Any Baldwin write ins will not be counted by the county election offices. They should be but they won’t.

  18. Richgriffin Says:

    Everyone who is against the bailout should vote for true progressives, such as Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney - greens, independent progressives and other progressives who will bring sane legislation for all americans. Building a progressive majority in the U.S. is what is most important.

  19. Roscoe Says:

    Barr will get 1 million votes tops. He is essentially unknown next to Nader, who will pull most of the “protest” votes.

  20. BOB BARR Says:

    BOB BARR IS THE ONLY LOGICAL CHOICE FOR CANDIDATE. The green party are considered socialist as well. For really a chance to win 3rd party, Barr is on the ballot for major states. more people are aware of him then the other people. So while certain people would vote for the others. If you really stand a chance of getting third party in. Everyone should vote for Libertarian instead of spreading all the votes out and not getting a third party in at all.
    The indepence, Modern Whig is the closet to the Libertarian Party and should have connected to be one bigger 3rd party if we ever stand a chance to win a 3rd party at all.

  21. Richgriffin Says:

    Alternative parties, multiparties, other parties - “third” parties frames it in terms o a “two-party” (sic) system. While it does work that way, there is nothing in our constitution that says it has to be that way. Whenever I hear the phrase “third party” I cringe. It’s not helpful to frame us as inferior or lesser than say the first and second party candidates. I like OTHER party the best because it is the most accurate at this time.

  22. Melty Says:

    Well said, Rich.
    It’s high time this place changes its name to “Other Party Watch.”
    In light of the latest Senate vote leading up to this surreal presidential Senate-pageant election, I think “Bailout Parties” suits the ruling parties well.

  23. RobertD Says:

    Ron Paul goes on TV everyday to talk about the financial crisis. He doesn’t mention ex-moral majority staffer Chuck Baldwin.

    In fact, his endorsement was very clearly aimed at being a slight of Bob Barr, the way it was buried at the end of a long diatribe, and where he actually talked about Bob Barr and that his endorsement was a reaction to Bob Barr.

    Most reasonable people don’t support a candidate based upon Ron Paul’s pride and whatever slight he felt. They’ll vote for baptist preacher Baldwin because they support his platform of politics and religion.

    Baldwin gets helped by the endorsement, don’t get me wrong, it got his name out to a few more people, some of whom were receptive to the idea of it. I’ll make a prediction, Baldwin won’t break 1% and won’t even beat Bob Barr, however he will do at least 50% better than he did last time around.

  24. Jonathan Says:

    The media hs blacked out ALL third Party candidates

  25. RobertD Says:

    sorry I just read the article.

    I fully support Bob Barr. I also think this should be a year where he breaks all records. This bailout is massively unpopular, and Bob Barr has the right message.

    But having watched these things for so long, I’m a pessimist. I say Bob Barr doesn’t break any records, because he hasn’t broken a record in fund raising, and ‘firm’ support shows up in terms of dollar donations and contributors, something not considered in this article, and we all know 3rd party support evaporates somewhat by election day, the question is, how much.

    I say, Bob Barr beats all previous LP candidates, except for Ed Clark.
    Ed Clark’s campaign had money to spend on traditional advertising…Bob Barr cannnot close his campaign with that, he’s not even, so far on track to even beat Browne’s fundraising.

    If this bailout helps him, we’ll see it in the big donation ticker. I think he needs 50K per day to close out the season, if he’s going to beat Ed Clark.

  26. Gary Odom Says:

    Barr is known for all of the conservative Republican positions held for years and has now disavowed. Rather ironic, I think. He doesn’t get attention for what he claims to now believe, but for what he used to believe, but no longer does.

    And I have heard that he is “personally pro-life.” Say what?

  27. Ferenc Says:

    Please urge everybody you know to vote against people in the congress and senate who vote for this shameful bail out. It’s not a joke anymore.
    The leadership of this two party working against our country. They deserve to kick out from Washington. Keep your eyes open who you vote for. We need third, and independent party members as many as possible.

    God Bless

  28. Cody Quirk Says:

    The author (myself) is correct: I said Baldwin will be on the ballot for fewer Americans. I gave a link to Richard Winger’s post giving the numbers.

    = And if Richard says he’s on fewer ballots then Peroutka, then he’s wrong.

    If you want to create a strawman by misquoting me (saying I said “fewer states” when I didn’t), you can go have enjoyable conversations with yourself. Don’t let any of us here interrupt you.

    = Peroutka was on in 36 states only, Baldwin is on in one extra, check out the BAN news archives yourself.

  29. disinter Says:

    Secret Rulers of the World

  30. Bradley in DC Says:


    Please learn to read: Richard Winger shows, which I repeat, that Baldwin is on the ballot for fewer Americans in 2008 (59.8%) than the CP was in 2004 (66.4%).

    Those are the facts. I have checked them myself. I provide a link in this article.

  31. David D.... Says:

    This guy did a good piece, I’ll give him credit, but when you take into account that allot of these polls that he mentioned when polling takes place they only ask anywhere from six hundred to a thousand people. Somehow six hundred to a thousand people are reflective of the two hundred and two million people that actually participate in the election process. I just don’t buy it.

    Also he apparently failed to look at such on line polling by folks like Quiz Rocket, The New American Magazine and Revolution Radio On Line, when these folks poll Chuck Baldwin gets forty to one in all the polls hands down. So to me polls are polls and it all depends on which poll you look at as to what you wanna say, good piece though I will give him his due…...

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