Did third-party candidates tip Missouri, Indiana, and North Carolina?

In three states—Missouri, Indiana, and North Carolina—the victor in the presidential race did not get 50% of the vote. And the vote for third-party candidates conceivably may have altered the outcome.

The problem is trying to determine the mindset of the voters who took the third-party route, an impossible task. Would they have voted for Obama or McCain if no third-party choice had been on the ballot? It’s tempting to say that Nader’s voters come from the Left and would otherwise have voted for Obama, while Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin voters come from the Right, and would otherwise have voted for McCain. But poll analysis throughout the 2008 campaign shows this is a great oversimplification. In polls that queried voters in depth, a surprising number of Nader voters considered themselves something other than “liberal,” and a surprising number of Barr and Baldwin voters (as well as Ron Paul voters) considered themselves something other than “conservative.”

It is just as possible that most of these third-party voters would have stayed at home and not voted, if they had no third-party choice.

At any rate, here are the three states where third-party candidates kept either of the major-party candidates from getting a majority of the votes (we can say that!):

McCain 49.5%
Obama 49.3%
Nader 0.6%
Barr 0.4%
Baldwin 0.3%

Obama 49.9%
McCain 49%
Barr 1.1%

North Carolina
Obama 49.8%
McCain 49.6%
Barr 0.6%

28 Responses to “Did third-party candidates tip Missouri, Indiana, and North Carolina?”

  1. Lysander Spooner Says:

    I’m proud to say that I voted third party all the way here in NC.

    Even though I am an anarcho-capitalist, I would gladly consider voting for a green party candidate, a socialist, a constitutionalist, a libertarian, or anyone else who wants to undermine the ruling political class. For me, the philosophy of liberty is very important, but as a practical matter we will never get to the philosophical debate until we disrupt the corporate-owned, statist mockery of a political system.

    We all need to unite in committing to a total overhaul of our election laws. We need as many people on the ballot as possible. We need to allow multiple third parties to nominate the same candidates, to pool the anti-establishment votes. We need to protest the fake debates. We need to boycott the corporate media and support independent media. We need to fight any attempts to regulate the internet.

    We need to realize we are all fighting the same monster, even if we don’t see the monster in the same light.

  2. Beau Says:

    Okay “3rd Party” candidates, 2012 is the year, we start the planning now.
    There were 9 candidates for President in Iowa. There need to be just 3.
    Throw your ego’s out the window, and get behind 1, third party candidate.
    Get all 7 or how many parties together at a conference, decide who the
    choice is for 2012, coalesce, pool resources, pool votes, and make a damn
    statement that WILL be heard! There is no tomorrow.

  3. Jonathan Says:

    December 21st 2012 is when the world ends according to most cultures.

    so start planning now, lol


    Well, I can’t vote for Cynthia McKinney because she’s insane and the Green party is a leap in the wrong direction anyways.

    Nader will be too old so perhaps he wont run.

    The Constitution Party is too wacky religious.

    Perhaps 2012 is FINALLY the year the LP breaks new ground.

  5. Impeach Bush Says:

    Glad to see that we did have an impact on some states! Even though the votes were not great, it was still awesome to have an impact! Lets give the two party system a run for their money!

  6. Pollster Says:

    If Wayne Root is the candidate, the LP will sink further into oblivion.

    Penn (Pres) and Teller (Veep) for 2012!!

  7. Lynnpaulus Says:

    I agree with Beau. But we need name recognition! I think Ron Paul is the ticket.

  8. Pollster Says:

    Ron Paul will be too old (77) in 2012. This was his chance but he bottled it and chose to stay in the GOP.

  9. DJ Says:

    For a third party run to have a impact I think we need someone who is either independently wealthy or a celebrity who can be taken seriously or both. We’ve learned the media won’t give us attention based on our ideas or merits, there has to be some sort of caveat to draw their gaze.

    I thought Barr would be good enough to draw some attention for us libertarians, early on he got some media attention. He did the talk show circuit he was on cnn ect. But as the election drew closer the media shirked him in favor of the major parties. The only time I saw Bob on tv lately was a few weeks ago on the Maddow show on msnbc and all she did was ask him about McCain.

    I think we need to try to build on the little momentum we picked up this year and try to get some solid congressional candidates for 2010. Then in 2012 if we can get someone with enough cash to finance their own campaign as Perot did in the 90’s we could make some headway.

  10. Michael Seebeck Says:

    Sorry, David, the premise is false, at least as far as Indiana goes. You forgot two key points there: time zones and demographics.

    I was tracking IN all night as my folks live there, I grew up there, and I know the NW Dunes area inside out. Barr did not help Obama.

    The northwest part of the state is in Central Time to sync up with Chicago. Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and Starke Counties are all in that zone. Most of the rest of the state is in Eastern Time. The polls in Duneland, Gary, and Michigan City closed an hour later, and Gary is notorious for slow counting—been that way for decades. The rest of the Central Zones in the far south of the state are highly rural and low-population and went McCain in the 50-60% range, while up north those counties are very urban and high-population and went Obama in the 60-70% range. What happened was that the time zone switch had the polls close later and the result was a late tally surge for Obama in raw numbers that put him over the top. Barr was insignificant in that surge, even if the final numbers appear to indicate otherwise.

  11. Pollster Says:

    DJ wrote “For a third party run to have a impact I think we need someone who is either independently wealthy or a celebrity who can be taken seriously or both. ”

    I agree and suggest a Penn & Teller ticket for 2012. Funny, principled, straight talking and no bullshit.

  12. Clark Says:

    ....spooner’s ghost of the future haunts us with some truths…methinks he sees the big picture…good points!..

  13. DebbieKat Says:

    I wonder if Matt Gonzalez will be running in 2012…?

  14. DJ Says:

    “I agree and suggest a Penn & Teller ticket for 2012. Funny, principled, straight talking and no bullshit.”

    I like it! I’m not sure if they would be taken seriously by the msm though. They could be seen as something of a sideshow.

  15. Jonathan Says:

    My article on the Third Party election results:


    If you like it click on THUMBS UP

  16. DonaldRaymondLake Says:

    Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan.

  17. Beau Says:

    I don’t understand people talking about not liking this candidate, or that candidate. So what. The candidate is not going to win. The point is to upset the apple cart of the duopoly. You could put a fence post as the candidate.
    Al Franken all most became a Senator for pete’s sake.

    The point is, to put aside the bickering. Pool votes. Pool money. Pool volunteers. FOCUS.

    I’d vote for a communist, to make a point. If there was only one 3rd party candidate.


    I’d support Penn Jillette. A smart celebrity is what the LP needs.

    On the otherhand he was the first male celebrity voted off the 2008 Dancing with the Stars.

  19. Clark Says:

    “You could put a fence post as the candidate.”

    ...great point! ...and a fence post couldn’t talk and besmirch libertarianism as bobo barf and the barf-tards do repeatedly!..

    ...i will always remember what drew me to ‘libertarianism’..the knowledgeable people/writers/thinkers who called/call themselves ‘libertarian’..the timeless, brilliant observations about the nature of ‘government,’ etc. (and my/our relation to ‘it’—a relation i still wrestle with)—i most probably would not have discovered on my own..myself a thoroughly brain-laundered resident of ooga-booga-dom..

    ...i am disgusted by bob barr and his republican/crat ilk because they besmirch the ‘libertarian’ philosophy i know..and i don’t learn anything of value from any of these republican fucks..and they appear arrogantly confident in their fucking republicrat ignorance..and..

    ...and forgive me for beating the same hor$e but methinks we ‘libertarians’ have a golden opportunity to win MANY hearts by being the first to—FINALLY—make clear ‘the money thing($)’..as the origin, nature, REALITY, etc. of ‘the money god/power’ remains a virtually unexplored mystery to most/all people..

    ...and an all-powerful, establishment control mechanism which has at its roots the initiation of fraud/coercion ought to be a/the prime target of every decent libertarian..

    ...ron paul makes a lot of hay on THE $ubject
    (even though he appears somewhat misinformed on some aspects of THE $ubject!)

    ..but have a good day!

  20. deb Says:

    Nevada maintained ballot access , which was extremely iffy this time around.
    Nathan Santucci received 24% in a St Assembly race and Joe Silvestri also qualified us with his congessional bid winning just under 3% in a 6 way race.

    It may be a small victory but we are thrilled to still have ballot access .
    better luck to us all next time:)

  21. DonaldRaymondLake Says:

    Beau, are you [email protected]
    of Sacramento [California] ????

    And Uncle Ralph [Nader] has some very pro ‘reform movement’ not exactly leftist stands. I am self described as a Radical Centerist and also have some not exactly leftist stands. There are all kinds of not exactly Bible Thumping Constitutionalist, non GOP Libs, and capitalists Greens.

    It is not a melting pot, it is a fruit salad ——-except in post November California [Proposition 8?].

    But again, on religion in politics: help keep my spirituality secure! Human Secularism in politics is not a psudeo religion, it is compartimentalisation. [It is also antiestablishmentarianism, but that is another blog!] Religion, religion, religion is fine, at home and in temple. Keep it out of SECULAR public administration.

    Insane McCain is too far gone. Are you REALLY paying attention Obama [you ‘Slick Willie’ panderer!] ?

  22. Impeach Bush Says:

    Call me crazy, but if he works hard enough, I think Ventura can have a huge influence on the third party movement in the future. Jesse Ventura/Rand Paul 2012 anyone?

  23. Clark Says:

    ...i don’t think jesse ventura even knows what a fucking ‘dollar’ is…(the origin, nature etc.)

    ...’leaders’ who don’t know what a fucking ‘dollar’ is will only ‘lead’ other stooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooopid fucks who don’t know what a dollar is!..they will continue to ‘lead’ you stooooooooooooooooopid fucks in circle$..

    GET REAL, you theory-spewing, reality-ignorant, monetary dumbasses!!...

    ..and have a good day!..

  24. ETJB Says:

    A couple of points, from some one who is not a member of any minor or third party.

    (1) Now is the time to try and build a professional, non-partisan group behind electoral reform that can unite Democrats, Republicans, Independents and minor party supporters. Absent of this interest group mass movement, the system will not change and the presidential race will—legally—be similar to non-major parties as this one was.

    (2) Nader may, finally, be getting serious about creating some sort of interest group to promote electoral reform. All too often the most well known Independents or minor party candidates seem to be too busy or too egotistical to help support such a movement. We really do need the AARP, NAACP or NRA (in terms of membership, funding and professional planning) of electoral reform in America.

    (3) The Greens and the Libertarians are struggling due to some serious internal party divisions. Greens are divided over their views on Nader and how they should relate to Democrats. Libertarians are divided over how to relate to Paleo-Conservatives and the GOP. This has hurt them both, and has really helped out the Constitution Party.

    (4) Their are few internal divisions within the Constitution Party, but it is unlikely to have an appeal beyond people who (1) do not like immigration, (2) do not like international organizations, (3) prefer a theocracy or (4) really really love guns and god, but hate gays and abortion.

    The reason that the Constitution Party did, in some respects, better then the Greens or the Libertarians is probably due to a lack of a deep internal divisions and becomes they were able to capture some of the Ron Paul support.

    Yet—and I cannot repeat this enough—if Independent and minor party supporters cannot get their act together, put aside some of their egos and really come together for a professional electoral reform interest group—that can win over Democrats and Republicans—they will never become anything beyond an Electoral Knick-Knack or spoiler.

  25. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Clark wrote:

    ...i will always remember what drew me to ‘libertarianism’..the knowledgeable people/writers/thinkers who called/call themselves ‘libertarian’..the timeless, brilliant observations about the nature of ‘government,’ etc. (and my/our relation to ‘it’—a relation i still wrestle with)—i most probably would not have discovered on my own..myself a thoroughly brain-laundered resident of ooga-booga-dom..

    It is a pity, Clark, that instead of using the information and inspiration of these people you claim to admire to make yourself a more articulate and admirable spokesperson for the cause, you seem instead to waste most of your time and energy on incoherent gibbering attacks against people who really aren’t worth that much of your time or your energy.

    I really wish you would try to become one of those people who will inspire the next group of curious thinkers, rather than just settling for embarrassing yourself publicly by calling yourself silly names, and your cause generally with your poor writing.

    Do you really want someone saying “I will always remember what turned me off libertarianism - it was that guy who couldn’t be bothered to string together three coherent words into a sentence and did nothing but call people silly names”?

  26. Clark Says:

    HOGARTH OPINES: ‘..you (CLARK) seem instead to waste most of your time and energy on incoherent gibbering..’ (END)

    ..susan, firstly, thanks for the readership! ...

    ...but i believe you too, sadly, don’t understand the origin, nature, etc. of ‘a dollar’..so, sadly, you probably won’t ever ‘get’ me..(btw, since we’re being so honest with one another, i’m fairly certain your priorities are really fucked-up..typical of monetary non-realists..)...

    ...in my experience, even most ‘libertarians’ don’t have a fucking clue about the origin, nature, etc. of “money”..although the VERY FEW people i know with some honest knowledge/in$ight here tend to self-describe as ‘libertarian’ and/or ‘constitutionalists’...

    ..as to inspiring others, i doubt you have inspired/informed as many people as i..not to brag..although you may have more tpw/LP fans (who also don’t know what a fucking dollar is) ;o)

    ...but again, !thank-you for the readership and have a good night!..

  27. Clark Says:

    btw, apparently even howard, one of my very favorites was/is, sadly, a fucking monetary ignoramus too!..so don’t feel bad, susan!.. ;o)

    ‘Beale: I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the street, and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it.

    We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. And we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be!

    We all know things are bad—worse than bad—they’re crazy.

    It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we’re living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, “Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.”

    Well, I’m not going to leave you alone.

    I want you to get mad!

    I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to write to your Congressman, because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street.

    All I know is that first, you’ve got to get mad.

    You’ve gotta say, “I’m a human being, goddammit! My life has value!”

    So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell,

    “I’m as mad as hell,

    and I’m not going to take this anymore!!”

  28. bruce earnheart Says:

    A celebrity candidate is an overrated means of achieving impressive vote totals. Isn’t Ralph Nader a celebrity of sorts? He hasn’t broken a million votes since 2000. Penn Jillette, although an accomplished communicator and intellect would have difficulty breaking through as a serious candidate simply because a a member of the entertainment profession, he would be thought a joke candidate. Admittedly, someone of the stature of a Clint Eastwood might work, but what are those prospects?

    A billionaire willing to throw away millions would be a better idea but again, what are the prospects of finding Mr. Moneybags?

    What third parties need are paper candidates pledged to spend all funds on television commercials of the quality of those puchased by the Clark campaign in 1980. No more hotels, air fares, and associated travel expenses unless paid for by some outside organization, e.g., a university.

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