The system is rigged against third parties. Discuss (45) (Historical…
The system is rigged against third parties. Discuss (45)
- since 1853, every president has been either D or R. Candidates from the two main parties regularly receive more than 90+ of the vote (except 1968, 1992)
114th Congress, not a single independent or third party member in the House!, Only 2 independents in Senate (King and Sanders regularly caucus with D, therefore counted as Democrats when allocated committee assignments)
Currently, Libertarian Party is largest 3rd party (368,5000) compared to Democrats 42 million and Republican 30 million!
Political Historian Richard Hofstafter "Destined only to sting like a bee then die"
Theodore Roosevelt: Elected in 1904, led the Progressive movement. 1908: Taft wins, but more conservative = Roosevelt seeks 1912 Republican nomination, fails, forms Progressive 'Bull-Moose Party' but splits vote, Dems win
First Past the Post System
Difficult for parties with considerable but not concentrated support to win a plurality of the vote
Wasted votes = tactical votes!
Electoral College! 1992: Ross Perot wins 18.9% of popular vote as independent, gets 0 electoral votes! Due to FPTP system in almost every state
are popular vote!
No EC, makes it easier to succeed at a stater wide level
However, lots of current governers either started out as R/D, switched to R/D or have been endorsed by R/D, showing the importance of the two main parties and how third parties cannot succeed without them
State Laws on Ballot
- Determine how candidates qualify to get name on Ballot Paper, different rules but most states require collection of signatures
Hugely expensive for a third party candidate to appear on all 50 state ballots (as no media coversage, etc.) - Perot did in 1992, but he funded his own campaign
"The time, money and energy spent getting on the ballot is more time, money and enery spent one we are on the ballot" -Phil Huckleberry, Chairman of Green Party Ballot Access Committee
Libertarian Party, third biggest, only on 32 state ballots in 2016!
BUT consider it is easy to get on some ballots - eg, Tennessee only need 25 signatures!
Lack of Media Coverage
- Lacking name recognition = difficult to get public's attention, donations = cycle of media ignoring them for more favourable/controversial candidates!
eg. 1992, Perot was a billionaire! Therefore able to privde millions to his own campaign, no need to rely on media to encourage sponsors
Since began in 1960, Third Party candidates only included twice! 80 and 92
2000, New Rule Implemented: Debate candidates had to be on enough state ballots to actually win, and have 15% support in polls (this would have excluded Perot in 92!) - Nadar was excluded, 2012 Obama and Romney refused = candidate looks powerless, not taken seriously
2016: Trump got 1773 mins, Clinton got 1020 mins, Gary Johnson (Lib) got 11 seconds! Jill Stein (Green) got 3 seconds!
eg. State's Rights Party (Dixiecrats) were against civil rights legislation (walked out of 1948 DNC after Truman expresses support for civil rights legislation), ony focused on deep south (regional focus strat) - Republican Southern Strategy targeted these voters - Strom Thurmond ran as Dixiecrat in 1948 presidential election (2.4% popular vote, 39 electoral votes), carried 4 southern states! Later becomes Republican candidate in 1968!
eg. 1992: Perot based his campaign on committment to deficit reduction - after this D and R's spoke out in favour of this policy = made it much harder for Perot in 1996, as his main stand out issue had been adopted!
1960s: 'Solid South' begins to break up (Kennedy and VP Johnson both for civil rights) 1964: Johnson passes Civil Rights Act - "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come.”
1964: Johnson passes Civil Rights Act - "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come.”
1964 Election: Johnson wins with huge landlside (62% popular) BUT Republican Goldwater wins home state Arizona & Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina - had previously not voted Republican since 1870s, relied on old Democrat policy of preserving segregation/Jim Crowe laws etc.
1968: Independent Wallace carries 5 southern states on main campaign for racial segregation! - Openly said his goal was not to become president, served to dilute the vote (lots of votes he got in NorthEast could have gone to Nixon, he wanted no Electoral College majority)
1972 Election: Nixon co-opts, won over disaffected Democrats in the South and supported issues of states rights. Wins 18 million more votes than opponent McGovern, widest win by popular vote ever!
D&R are Big Tent Parties
- Little ideological space for 3rd parties to occupy
eg. Tea Party Movement did not create a new party, but instead had to work inside the Republican Party - this is not necessarily a bad thing, as the entire party moved more to the right
Sanders could not run as an independent and be successful
BUT lots of Sanders supporters voted Trump (e. 12% YouGov) suggesting the system is rigged BUT that there is potential for a candidate to change the result if they're popular enough
Policy on Matching Funds
- Federal government matches first $250 of each donation, as long as candidate agrees to spending limits
TO QUALIFY, MAIN PARTY - Need to raise at least $5000 from donations of $250 or less, in 20 states
QUALIFY, THIRD PARTY - Need to have won at least 5% of vote at the previous election! Difficult to achieve, doesn't help candidates running for first time