Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Votes For Third Party Candidates Are Wasted

Yesterday, a few websites reported the rumor (since debunked) that John McCain would support the “Gang of 20” drilling compromise, which would open up a tiny portion of space on the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling—while increasing taxes on oil companies by thirty billion dollars. It is, from a conservative perspective, a bad idea.

Many conservatives exploded with anger. Ace’s reaction was typical:

Do it. A lot of us are simply angry and want a goddamned shock to the system. And here's the thing you can take to bed with you tonight -- a clearing out of all of you deadweight RINO Senators and a genuine Republican bloodbath is also a perfectly serviceable shock to the system as far as we're concerned.

This sort of attitude isn’t as common as it was before McCain picked Palin, but for a brief time after McCain’s nomination, it was the prevailing outlook in the conservative blogosphere, and really, within the entire conservative movement. People seemed to think (and some still think) that withholding their vote for McCain and letting the Republican party go down in flames would be worth it. And judging from the reaction to the Gang of 20 rumors, many conservatives are still very open to the idea.

It doesn’t work. Voting for a third party candidate (or not voting at all) always sounds daring and audacious, a nice we’re-not-taking-it-anymore message to the offending party. But the party never actually listens to its angry base—it just goes and nominates the same kind of candidates the next year. After all, where else is the base going to go?

In 1992, Ross Perot actually managed to take the election from George H. W. Bush. (Perot isn’t easy to classify—personally, I think “crackpot” works best—but most observers think that he took many more votes away from Bush than he took from Clinton). Perot’s success was a clear sign that Bush’s policies weren’t resonating with voters—so did the GOP nominate a more conservative candidate the next election cycle? No, they nominated Bob Dole, a candidate who was remarkably similar to Bush.

Perot helped defeat him too. (Although in fairness, Perot’s impact was smaller in 1996, and I’m not sure that Dole needed any help losing). Clearly, many voters weren’t happy with the two mainstream party choices, and further, most of those voters were Republicans. They had helped rob the Republican party of victory for two consecutive election cycles. And the Republicans did not learn their lesson—they nominated George W. Bush, reasoning that all those Perot voters would come home to the Republican party, which they did. It worked—Bush won.

The Perot saga shows that even though a third party actually managed to affect the general election, and lost at least one and possibly two contests for the Republicans, the party didn’t change its philosophy. It simply kept nominating similar candidates till the third party voters gave up and came back to the party. It is what would happen if conservatives abandoned McCain now.

If the Perot story isn’t convincing, consider the Ralph Nader effect. In 2000, Nader clearly, without a shadow of a doubt, lost the election for Al Gore. Gore lost in the key state of Florida by under six hundred votes. Nader got almost one hundred thousand voters. If just one percent of Nader’s voters had voted for Gore, he would have been president of the United States. But they didn’t, because many liberals felt that Gore was not fully committed to the Left.

In 2004, the Democrats nominated John Kerry, who was, if anything, farther right than Gore. Sensing a pattern here? Voting for a third party is literally a wasted vote—the two major parties pay no attention to the concerns of third party voters.

Why not? Because they know that the sort of far-left or right voters who would go for a third party candidate are eventually going to come back anyway, after seeing the effects of their wasted vote. But the moderate, independent voters want a candidate somewhere near the middle of the political spectrum, and candidates who propose a single-payer healthcare system or a return to the gold standard don’t qualify, which explains why people like Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul never get nominated, no matter how many times they run.

There are a many more moderates than ideologues. Therefore, neither party will ever nominate a candidate who is either wholly conservative or totally liberal. Conservatives (and liberals too, really) should adjust to that fact, and attempt to start pushing the center right. (They can do this by joining grassroots organizations, running for office, or supporting conservative candidates). But throwing away votes on quixotic but doomed third party candidacies isn’t the way to do it.

I have always felt the conservatism, in large part, is about accepting reality. Many conservatives should start doing that.


At September 17, 2008 at 7:05 AM , Blogger Beth said...

Accepting reality has nothing to do with holding to your principles Daniel, perhaps you are the one who cannot accept the reality that people are free to vote for whomever they chose for whatever reason they chose to.

At September 17, 2008 at 7:23 AM , Blogger Throwing Stones said...

Principles schminciles YOU cannot accept the reality that
3rd parties can not win and that they are dead weight to the election.

At September 17, 2008 at 8:21 AM , Blogger Beth said...

Sounds like a self-fufilling prophecy to me TS.

Or herd mentality!

At September 17, 2008 at 8:34 AM , Blogger Throwing Stones said...

" Or herd mentality!"

What makes you think that YOUR mentality is so unique?
I happen to feel that the mentality of anyone that believes a third party is the answer pretty dense and nieve in my view just ask George Herbert Walker Bush.

At September 17, 2008 at 8:40 AM , Blogger Beth said...

Are you kidding me? What makes my mentality unique? Because I don't blindly agree to whatever the GOP feeds me, that's why!

At September 17, 2008 at 8:45 AM , Blogger Throwing Stones said...

I guess Johnny Whatshisface over there's too stupid to realize it. Rebecca really get it either. Enid is too dense to understand it. Peter over there really don’t get it either
Everyone's too stupid. ... to believe your point. You came here to tell us who cannot accept reality ...not to say they're stupid becuz we don't know anything about how to vote
It sounds obvious to me that you feel that everyone is stupid except you..
You know that’s the way people in the loony bin feel.

Why don’t you send in your friend SoapGod to tell us about Freedoms and Global Warming. I can feel that coming.
Did you get your email out to him yet? LOL

At September 17, 2008 at 8:49 AM , Blogger Throwing Stones said...

"Are you kidding me? What makes my mentality unique? Because I don't blindly agree to whatever the GOP feeds me, that's why!"

I see, well I'm going to be the first to nominate you for Sainthood.
Just look how righteous and how smart you are!!! We are all dummies and retards compared to you

At September 17, 2008 at 8:54 AM , Blogger Throwing Stones said...

By the way Daniel, I agree, I think “crackpots” works best also.

At September 17, 2008 at 8:58 AM , Blogger Beth said...

Clearly I am out-debated by your words of wisdom, Stone man.

At September 17, 2008 at 9:00 AM , Blogger Beth said...

I mean really, how silly of me to think Johnny and Rebecca and Enid could think for themselves and vote based on their own thoughts and ideals.

At September 17, 2008 at 9:58 AM , Blogger Daniel Ruwe said...

Beth, don't get me wrong--you have the right to vote whomever you want to. And I like standing by my principles. But in a two party democracy (and our democracy can never be anything but), you will never find a candidate in perfect accordance with your ideals. I think Reagan was a great president, but there are things I disagree with his position on, such as spending. You're never going to find a perfect choice, and voting 3rd party probably won't help you find one.

At September 17, 2008 at 10:06 AM , Blogger Throwing Stones said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At September 17, 2008 at 10:07 AM , Blogger Throwing Stones said...

"you will never find a candidate in perfect accordance with your ideals"

EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!! NEVER

At September 17, 2008 at 11:36 AM , Blogger Beth said...

I personally don't like any third party candidate enough to vote for any of them, but I cannot find fault in anyone who wants to vote for someone who for them could be the perfect candidate.

Never say never!

At September 17, 2008 at 11:59 AM , Blogger Throwing Stones said...

"I personally don't like any third party candidate enough to vote for any of them"

Hum, I sense a little change of mind?


At September 17, 2008 at 1:49 PM , Blogger Name: Soapboxgod said...

As we've discussed ad nauseam before, it's not about total purity here. And that is something that the party loyalists seem hellbent on suggesting every time they invoke the "...you will never find a candidate in perfect accordance with your ideals" argument.

I happen to know for a fact that neither Beth nor myself are seeking total purity in our presidential candidate. What we are imploring here is a sort of sliding scale assessment. On one side of the spectrum is Liberalism. On the other is Conservativism.

There is a certain percentage requirement of Conservatism to warrant our support. And, at least for me, John McCain's percentage of conservativism on that scale isn't worthy of my vote.

Also, I should add, no matter whom he selects as his VP, it does not change who John McCain himself is.

Lastly, while it has been said herein that "[3rd parties] are dead weight in an election" it ought to be remembered that "...moderation in the pursuit of Justice is no virtue."

It's no more "dead weight" to opt for an ineffectual 3rd party to pursue a winning cause than it is to look to a winning party to pursue an ineffectual cause.

At November 2, 2008 at 8:11 AM , Blogger knowitall said...

I would have to agree with this statement. The third party candidates have no chance of winning, and yet they're still in the race. These candidates are helping the left-wing illuminati who are holding majority of the vote as of now.

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