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Author Topic: Third Party Votes a Waste?  (Read 4059 times)

CameronS

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Third Party Votes a Waste?
« on: May 06, 2009, 11:35:48 am »
This phrase arose several times in this thread. I'll admit, I certainly never thought of it that way. I always voted for the person who's ideas appealed to me most (or against someone who's ideas I hated).

So, could you political folk on WTA explain to me how exactly 3rd party votes are a waste?

Disclaimer: I am not trying to start off another argument; I'm just looking for answers.

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    bmitchell

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #1 on: May 06, 2009, 11:40:35 am »
    I think the idea is that since they are third party they will basically not get enough votes from the masses to even come close to being in the same ballpark as a lefty or righty candidate.  Of course, if nobody votes for them BECAUSE they won't get enough votes, the problem is self-replicating.  I'll take a candidate I agree with any day.

    Ben

    StevenTing

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #2 on: May 06, 2009, 11:53:32 am »
    This phrase arose several times in this thread. I'll admit, I certainly never thought of it that way. I always voted for the person who's ideas appealed to me most (or against someone who's ideas I hated).

    So, could you political folk on WTA explain to me how exactly 3rd party votes are a waste?

    Disclaimer: I am not trying to start off another argument; I'm just looking for answers.

    Generally, when you have a 3rd party, it splinters off votes from one of the two major parties.  Depending on how similar the 3rd party is to one of the major parties, it will benefit the other party.  In many cases, Libertarians are closer to Republicans.  Constitution Party is probably closer to Republicans as well.  I'm guessing Green Peace is closer to Democrats.  Typically, when someone votes for a 3rd party, they most likely would have voted for one of the two major parties, had the 3rd party not been around.  So it weakens either the Dem or Rep party.

    Back in 1992 with Ross Perot, he ran on a 3rd party ticket.  That party was similar to the Republican party.  If Perot wasn't in the race, those people that voted for him, most likely would have voted Republican.  Since the Electoral college is based on majority votes, the Republican party was not able to obtain a majority in some states.  Had the Republican and 3rd party votes been added together (assuming all 3rd party votes went republican) it might have added up to a majority, meaning a win for Bush.  Since it was split, the Democrat party got the state.  Many people feel this is why Bill Clinton won the presidency that year.

    Generally, 3rd parties don't win.  It is a way for you to exercise your voice but it is meaningless unless the 3rd party can win or cause a draw.  I don't know of any state where a 3rd party candidate won all of the electoral votes.  If a 3rd party could win, let's say 30 electoral votes, it might not be a wasted vote as it would force a run-off of some kind.  But, if the 3rd party only got 3 electoral votes, it's not likely to make a difference, and the votes would essentially be "wasted".
    Utah

    CameronS

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #3 on: May 06, 2009, 11:55:14 am »
    I see. Thanks very much, bmitchell and Steven.

    Canthros

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #4 on: May 06, 2009, 12:05:50 pm »
    Third parties in American politics tend to function as indicators of where the larger parties need to go. If the Libertarians start to make significant showings in elections, the GOP will move in a roughly libertarian-ish direction, until they are libertarian enough to keep the Libs from being spoilers. Likewise, the Dems and the Greens. Unless an election is very close (2000, 2004), or the third party draws a significant portion of the vote (1992), votes given to a third party are usually not electorally significant.

    Now, vote calculus is a little tricky to grasp, because the absolute number of votes for a given party doesn't matter particularly. What matters is how many more votes they have than their opponents. Suppose we have major parties A and B. If you deny Party A a vote (whether you give it to a third party or just stay home), you are, in a practical sense, giving Party B half a vote (when compared with you voting for A). The reason being that, though Party B's vote total remains the same whether you vote for Party A, vote for a third party, or stay home, Party A's vote total is one less when you don't vote for them. To balance that out, Party A has to get one extra vote from somebody else. When you vote for Party B instead of Party A, you've created a two vote difference that Party A must make up to cancel out your vote. It's like this:

    1. Difference between A and B, if you vote for A:
    A + 1 - B

    2. Difference between A and B, if you vote for third party C (neither A nor B receives your vote):
    A - B

    3. Difference between A and B, if you stay home (neither A nor B receives your vote):
    A - B

    4. Difference between A and B, if you vote for B:
    A - (B + 1) => A - B - 1

    So, compared with scenario 1, the difference in votes between Parties A and B is one smaller in scenarios 2 and 3, and two smaller in scenario 4.
    Kentucky

    JesseL

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #5 on: May 06, 2009, 12:17:01 pm »
    Whether a third party vote is a waste depends on several factors; including what you believe the utility of voting is, and how the candidates line up with your ideals.

    If you believe your vote is simply your voice in who should be elected, as long as you actually vote it can't be wasted. On the other hand, if you believe your vote is an opportunity to help manipulate who is elected, it is conceivable that your vote would be wasted by voting for someone with little chance of winning.

    Even in the latter case though, it's possible that the both of the electable candidates are so poorly aligned with your ideals that there would be no value to you in helping to choose between them and the only value left in your franchise is protest.
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    Thernlund

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #6 on: May 06, 2009, 03:52:50 pm »
    I'll say this because nobody else has mentioned it...

    I don't think there is such a thing as a wasted vote in the primarys.  That's where people need to vote their conscience.  But after that particular cloud of dust settles, it's very likely that you can point at two candidates and be absolutely certain that one of them will be elected.  Voting a third party at that point has the net effect of just agreeing with what the majority said.  See the responses above for more on that front.


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    Big Junk

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #7 on: May 06, 2009, 04:31:15 pm »
    No vote is ever a waste.  And I pretty much condemn anyone that thinks their vote is wasted once it is cast.

    What all of you are defining is that a valued vote is one cast for a winner.  And THAT is what got us into this s___ hole to start with.  If people would just vote for who they agree with or who they felt would do a better job instead of who they though would win, we would have representative government.  Instead we have a popularity contest where people can keep up with the populist notion they they too voted for the winner.

    If you vote, and you vote honestly, it is never a wasted vote.  When you can't find anyone to vote for, vote for yourself.  Your must be COUNTED, and a vote counted is not a vote wasted.  The only vote wasted is one not cast.

    <climbs off soapbox>

    Canthros

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #8 on: May 06, 2009, 04:44:18 pm »
    I would be willing to argue that a vote cast in the general election that has a higher probability of producing an undesirable outcome than the act of not voting at all is probably wasted, or at least unwisely cast.
    Kentucky

    CameronS

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #9 on: May 09, 2009, 09:37:57 am »
    Very interesting responses, guys. 'Preciate it.

    eskimo jim

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #10 on: May 09, 2009, 09:56:10 am »
    I'll say this because nobody else has mentioned it...

    I don't think there is such a thing as a wasted vote in the primarys.  That's where people need to vote their conscience.  But after that particular cloud of dust settles, it's very likely that you can point at two candidates and be absolutely certain that one of them will be elected.  Voting a third party at that point has the net effect of just agreeing with what the majority said.  See the responses above for more on that front.


    -T.

    Got to agree, again, with Thernlund on this one.

    Vote your conscience in the primary then vote the lesser of two evils in the general election.

    In order for a third party to be successful, they should start running for and winning local seats in government and work their way up to state legislatures and governorships.  Only when there are several states with a significant number third party politicians in place will a third party be taken seriously on the national stage.  This will also give the third party a chance to develop experience and fund raising networks.  Ideally the third party would then have some accomplishments to illustrate why they are a better choice than the big two political parties.

    I believe that when Jesse Ventura won the governorship as a third party candidate in Minnesota, the Dems and Repubs in the state legislature got together and made sure that Ventura's vetos were overridden.  I might be wrong about this because I never got a chance to look more deeply into Ventura's effectiveness as a third party politician in Minnesota.

    The other option is for a huge split to occur in one of the two existing parties.

    Jim

    Jim

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    GotBoomstick

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #11 on: May 09, 2009, 12:25:06 pm »
    Also once the primary has been decided, the individuals promoting their third party candidates have the ability to pull undecideds (albiet in relatively small #'s) to their candidate.  When the margins are small those third party votes can have the ripple effect of loosing entire states to the opposing party. 

    If there were enough traction for a third party to garner up to 20% then they would be viable, but they never get more than a percentage or two in presidential elections.  That makes them as useful and writing in Darth Vader, hence a "wasted vote".
    Matt Crawford

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    akodo

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #12 on: May 09, 2009, 01:01:13 pm »
    I didn't read the discussion, but I can tell you this.

    Third party votes are PROVABLY not throw-away votes.

    Remember Govenor Jesse 'the body' Ventura?

    also, third parties in general have the effect of 'spoiling' elections, so does this mean they are normally a waste? No, not when you look long term.  Because the party that normally would get the 'split off votes' doesn't want a spoiler, they will often slide toward the ideological same end of the spectrum on the issues the third party is clammoring about.   Some people say 'pick the lesser of two evils'  when being faced with two parties that are very similar on stance.  (example, plenty of republicans have no problem going anti)  I will always vote for a third party pro RKBA over an anti republican, and the fact that many other people are willing to do that makes it more likely that a republican who doesn't feel strongly RKBA will still vote that way, or in primaries and caucases, a candidate who is anti gun will have a black-mark against him by the entire party, because even those who also don't care recongize such a stance will erode votes

    akodo

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #13 on: May 09, 2009, 01:07:58 pm »
    Of course, the REAL answer is to get involved at the primary and caucus level so you can steer the party toward proper candidates.  Almost all 3rd party candidates at one time tried to make their case within the party structure

    Thernlund

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #14 on: May 09, 2009, 01:13:58 pm »
    I didn't read the discussion, but I can tell you this.

    Third party votes are PROVABLY not throw-away votes.

    Remember Govenor Jesse 'the body' Ventura?

    You should read the thread.  It was mentioned as to why that was a waste of time.


    -T.
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    Outbreak

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #15 on: May 09, 2009, 02:45:29 pm »
    No vote is ever a waste...unless you're trying to vote against a certain candidate. In that case, all the opponents of that candidate must rally behind ONE other candidate. If you spread all those votes out to "ideal" candidates, you have one guy with about half the vote, and 25 other guys with 2% each.
    TexasOutbreak

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    akodo

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #16 on: May 09, 2009, 06:02:05 pm »
    You should read the thread.  It was mentioned as to why that was a waste of time.


    -T.

    I have gone back and read the thread.  I see nothing to change my mind.  I suspect you may be referring to
    Quote
    I believe that when Jesse Ventura won the governorship as a third party candidate in Minnesota, the Dems and Repubs in the state legislature got together and made sure that Ventura's vetos were overridden.  I might be wrong about this because I never got a chance to look more deeply into Ventura's effectiveness as a third party politician in Minnesota.

    I am in MN and remember this well.

    Very few of Ventura's Vetos were overriden.  The few that were, his being a third party politician didn't really play in.  Him being a meathead a______ might have.  by the 4th year he was basically at war with the media, and was causing as much trouble as possible for the legistature, and had been saying a ton of dumb things.  Besides, you declare the desire to swich from a bicameral to a unicameral system, each individual legislator is going to get pissed at you for potentailly removing their power position, so that is going to piss off the whole bundle, regardless of 3rd party status.

    Specifics. 
    In 1999, Ventura vetoed 18 bills (either full or line item) 1 veto was successfully overturned
    In 2000, Ventura vetoed 11 bills, 1.5 vetoes was successfully overturned (on an 8 item line veto, 4 of the 8 lines were overturned)
    in 2001, Ventura vetoed 10 bills in regular session and 6 bills in special session, zero vetoes were overturned
    in 2002, Ventura vetoed 9 bills, and 7 were overturned.

    I chalk up 2002 to be when Ventura was 'at war' with 'politics and the media' who he claimed were in cahoots, concentrating on his personal affairs rather than the actual details of what was going on in the legislature.

    Taking a look at his first 3 years, being a 3rd party govenor, and having only 2.5 vetoes overturned out of 45? Not a big issue.

    If third party played any part, it was the fact he had no strong legislative base to turn to to craft, introduce, and support a bill outlining something he desired.

    eskimo jim

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #17 on: May 09, 2009, 06:28:01 pm »
    Akodo,
    Thanks for telling me more about Ventura and Minnesota.

    Would you say that Ventura was an effective governor?  What kind of impact did he have on the political landscape being a non Dem or non Repub politician? 

    Jim
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    akodo

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #18 on: May 09, 2009, 06:29:32 pm »
    I see wikipedia had that wrong as well.  I went in and edited it but my wikifu isn't very good, and the paragraph below my edit is displaying kind of odd.  :doh

    Plus I am not a terribly good wordsmith.  Any of you with serious wiki-fu want to smooth it over but retain the factual info? :nervous

    akodo

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    Re: Third Party Votes a Waste?
    « Reply #19 on: May 09, 2009, 06:43:32 pm »
    Akodo,
    Thanks for telling me more about Ventura and Minnesota.

    Would you say that Ventura was an effective governor?  What kind of impact did he have on the political landscape being a non Dem or non Repub politician? 

    Jim

    Unfortunately, Ventura's 3rd party success and Ventura's politics were heavily tied up in Ventura's status as a WWF star and his personality.

    If he wasn't a WWF star, he wouldn't have gotten enough attention in the first place to even become mayor IMHO. 

    Formula: 
    Star + Loudmouth who says stupid things  = Media Attention
    Media Attention = Viable candidacty as a 3rd party
    Loudmouth who says stupid things = Ineffective Leader.

    His personal ego and powertrips had a much bigger impact on his success (and lack of success in the 4th year) overshadowing any 3rd party getting dumped on by the main 2 parties.

    What I learned from this is that a 3rd party is BEST served by picking a star, someone who already has great name recognition, but hopefully not a minor star who magifies that mior status with bonehead statements...OR  to get a local Senator or Member of the House to either run initially for office as a 3rd party candidate or switch over after being in office.  Then give this person support and media attention, THEN make a run for a Federal Senate seat or a govenorship.  That way you get someone who has Star like name recognition without the problems that can go along with that.

    Taking a look with a bent toward RKBA, you could have probably made a good 3rd party run with Charlton Heston for Govenor, and could probably do the same with Magnum P.I.  Non- RKBA, Penn from Penn and Teller probably has the kind of media attention and following that would allow him to run for office on a 3rd ticket, as could a lot of lead singers from the big bands of the 90s.  Too bad most of them would be drawn to a 3rd party on the liberal side.

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