Third Parties

Third Parties: Loved in Theory, Not Practice, if Gallup is Our Guide; Libertarian Gary Johnson Polls Three Percent

|

As Matt Welch blogged a couple of years ago, Gallup can reliably get big numbers of Americans to say we need a viable third party–58 percent two years ago.

Yet a poll released today from Gallup that specifically asks about third party candidates Gary Johnson (Libertarian), Jill Stein (Green), and Virgil Goode (Constitution) finds support topping off for any specific such candidate at 3 percent, for Johnson. Stein got 1 percent and Goode less than half a percent.

Republican Ron Paul, who they did not ask about, was volunteered by 2 percent. (See my new book about him, Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.)

Sadly, this Gallup also indicates that historically, polled support for third party candidates in June tends to drop by half when actual voting occurs.

I wrote in 2004 about third parties as consumption expenditures on the part of their devotees.

NEXT: Is Anthony Kennedy the Supreme Court's "Most Consistent Libertarian"?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. *Insert Kang and Kodos quote here*

    1. Zoidberg: You know, Fry, you could join a third party, maybe.
      Amy: Pfft! Only weirdos and mutants join third parties.
      Zoidberg: Really? I’d better keep an eye out at the next meeting.

  2. Quoth the anti-cosmotarians:

    The only parties that the Reason writers care about is DC Area Cocktail parties

    1. Then there’s the left-libertarians and their yearning for some 19th century past that never really existed so the left won’t think of them as hearless reactionaries and the Rockwellians and their desire to get the tinfoil hatters, Islamists, Putin, China, Chavez and Alex Jones to destroy Amerikka so Ron Paul can rule.

      1. Libertarian Socialism: The Contradictory Political Belief System

        1. It seems like their goal is win debates by using the most contradictory terms possible.

          Also, not really interested in how some 19th century political terminology reflects current political terminology. Seems like ideological hairsplitting. *Insert “splitters!” joke here*

          Also it’s nice to know that a “liberal” used to mean it’s exact opposite but I not sure how much it has to do with current events. Don’t think there are too many Democrats are concerned with how their beliefs reflect the beliefs of Jefferson, Jackson or Cleveland.

          1. I don’t know about left-libertarians, but I don’t like to use liberal as a pejorative so I use progressive instead. Europeans often use liberal in its original sense so if we could develop the habit of shaming democrats that they are not really liberals but progressives that would be great. Then Fox news could call libertarians “liberals” and all will be right with the world.

            1. Neither liberals nor progressives have at any point in history been dogmatically antigovernment. What’s called libertarianism is just anarchism with a few unavoidable concessions to practicality.

              1. $

              2. “What’s called libertarianism is just anarchism”

                Is that you, Ann Coulter?

              3. Classical liberals were absolutely anti-government. They coined the term “necessary evil”.

                It’s true progressives haven’t been, but then again, “progressive” is just the newest brand name socialists have adopted.

            2. Neither liberals nor progressives have at any point in history been dogmatically antigovernment. What’s called libertarianism is just anarchism with a few unavoidable concessions to practicality.

              1. T o n y|7.6.12 @ 8:41PM|#
                “Neither liberals nor progressives have at any point in history been dogmatically antigovernment. What’s called libertarianism is just anarchism with a few unavoidable concessions to practicality”

                Yes, shithead, we actually do represent an alternative. That scares the hell pathetic excuses for moral agents like you.

                1. I don’t subscribe to your religion. If secular pragmatism is a religion, then it is the religion of the Constitution. And if not, we should get a new constitution.

                  1. T o n y|7.6.12 @ 9:51PM|#
                    “I don’t subscribe to your religion.”

                    I have no religion, unlike you, shithead.

                    1. And we don’t subscribe to yours, Tony.

  3. It is pretty obvious why this is the case. While most people support the idea of a 3rd party in general, what they mean by a 3rd party is a party that thinks “exactly like me”, actual real world 3rd parties however cannot ever hope to do this and therefore they pale in comparison to the imagined ideal 3rd party leaving the average voter to simply vote for the major party candidate the hate the least.

    1. According to yesterday’s re-posted survey, the Libertarian Party’s candidate agrees with my on 97% of issues. I’m willing to accept him being wrong 3% of the time. He can still have my vote.

      1. Yes but pretty much by definition no one in this forum is an “average” voter.

    2. This has been apparent to me since the early 1990s when that became a popular question to poll on. It’s not unrealistic thinking on the part of those people, just bad judgment which many of us share: the thought that there must be enough people who think just like themselves to support a political party. In actuality, to satisfy their desideratum you’d need, not just a 3rd party, but probably a hundredth or thousandth party.

      Another observ’n I’ve made is that the populace is loaded with extreme ideas, but because they’re so idiosyncratic, so few people share those particular ideas that the vector sum is practically 0. It’s not as if most people aren’t radicals or extremists; it’s just that their radicality and extremity is close to sui generis in each case. They come out “moderate” or “centrist” only in aggregate. Meanwhile most of their crazy ideas don’t even get onto the agenda for serious discussion.

  4. Obama’s last, best hope is to let Gary Johnson into each of the three presidential debates. With that exposure, GEJ could pull a total “Ross Perot” and split the anti-Obama vote just enough to let the incumbent squeak by.

    1. Or… maybe take some of Obama’s votes.

      But you’re not in favor of that, are you?

      1. I’m willing to take that chance.

        1. Good. I hope it’s an exact tie between Shit Sandwich and Giant Douche, then.

          1. Dude, you need to unclench your jaw and try taking a breath through your nostrils.

            If we were electing the mayor of Haterville, you’d win in a landslide.

            1. Dude, you need to try making an actual point. Or better yet just make a sandwich and STFU bitch.

            2. Dear God teh stoopid is strong here.

              Dude, you need to unclench your jaw and try taking a breath through your nostrils

              If his jaw was clenched, it would imply his mouth was closed, ergo making the charge “mouth-breather” comically inaccurate in such an instance.

              If you’re going to make poor attempts at wit, first proofread and then ask yourself “does this make sense?”

              1. Or just go with something more direct and effective.

                “FUCK YOU Sudden, take that fucking fag talk and blow it out your ass” has the benefit of not requiring a logical examination.

                =)

                1. Plus he talks like a fag, and his shit’s all retarded.

                  1. Yes, that also.

            3. Yeah, easy for you to say… you think your Team is the cat’s ass, and will solve all our problems.

              Team Red thinks the same way, with the same results:

              The combined efforts of the Teams, will eventually lead to the demise of a free America.

              But do tell us it’s all sunshine and candy. Dance, while you’re at it.

    2. The name of the place is Babylon 5!

      Sorry, I saw “last, best hope…” and, well, y’know…

      1. Lol I’d vote Sheridan for President 🙂

  5. Republican Ron Paul, who they did not ask about, was volunteered by 2 percent.

    Instead of, you know, the only libertarian candidate who may have some chance of affecting the election. Apparently cutting the federal budget by 43% isn’t libertarian enough? Thanks, Paultards.

    1. From the Johnson website: “Potential immigrants should pass a background check, and then be issued a Social Security card, which would allow them to pay income, payroll, and all other taxes workers pay.” and “The TSA should take a risk-based approach to airport security. Only high-risk individuals should be subjected to invasive pat-downs and full-body scans.” and “Enact the Fair Tax to tax expenditures, rather than income, with a ‘prebate’ to make spending on basic necessities tax free.”

    2. What do we want? ABSOLUTE PURITY!
      When do we want it? NOW!!!!11!

      1. Ron Paul is maybe 85% pure, so it’s not that.

        1. It must be the popular support for the libertarian agenda, then. We’re so blessed with national and electoral favor, that we can afford to toss out a few of our functional politicians for minor deviations from the party line.

        2. I’m afraid that for a lot of people, Ron Paul defined their purity. Got to hand it to him for developing that kind of following.

  6. You need a fourth party for it to work. That way you split both parties’ vote. If say Nader or Feigngold were running as well as Johnson, they would split the Dem vote and Johnson would split the Republican vote. And then you have something. A three party system is really just a one party system.

    1. Shit, dude, I’d settle for a two-party system at this point.

      1. Ceteris paribus, first-past-the-post systems converge to two non-differentiated parties after a series of election cycles.

        Sucks, but that’s life.

        1. So why arent Britain and Canada there yet?

          1. Hence the “ceteris paribus”. Things like constituency, voter pools, etc come into play and alter the dynamic. In the US, these factors result in a Republican party that is marginally less revolting than the Dems, but not to a great extent.

            1. Where do you get marginally less revolting? Are you including Ron Paul in the Republican party?

              1. The constituency for the Republican party is marginally less dependent on and desirous of government expansion than same for the Dems. Whereas the Dems have a consistent patronage network, Republican attempts at creating same have had limited success (i.e., “only” NASA and parts of the defense industry).

                That’s what “compassionate conservatism” and K-Street were all about: an attempt at escaping the constraints of a constituency which does not inherently desire generic expanded government. It’s also why folks like RP can only be found in one party.

      2. I like RC’s little name for it: TEAM BE RULED.

        1. Oooh, subversive anagramming. Smart.

          1. Whatever, At Wry.

            1. Careful, now. The anagram is a well-known mating call amongst LOSTies and Dan Brown novel aficionados.

              Also SteveSmith, oddly enough.

              1. THIS ME VETS RAPE YOU NOW!!!!

              2. I like anagrams, but I couldn’t stand The Da Vinci Code (sic). Made it about twenty pages through, then hurled the book across the room.

                1. Why? It took like an hour and a half to read, or like 3 good shits.

                2. Who knew that the Pope loved his word puzzles so much?

          2. RULE BED MEAT!

          1. Oh ho ho, you will need to confront RC over this. He seemed to be claiming it as his invention.

            CRIPPLE FIGHT!!!

            1. I don’t think he claimed the phrase. I think he used it. Under license.

  7. I have a Tea Party buddy who worked hard for Ron Paul in 2008 and again in 2012. Until SCOTUS ruled, he was going to vote, if not work, for Gary Johnson. Now, he’s sore afraid the only way to get rid of Obamacare is to get rid of Obama, so he’ll hold his nose and vote for Romney. Like his one vote will count for Romney in a firmly Blue state. He’s also a confirmed non-interventionist but wasn’t sway by the possibility that Romney is more likely to take the U.S. into war with Iran than Obama is.
    Really sad. I see most of GJ’s support leaking away this way until he is down to about 1 million votes, if that.

    1. He can comfort himself with the knowledge that either ROMNIAC or Obama will drag the US into a war with Iran.
      So it doesn’t matter who he votes for!

    2. I like Gary Johnson and am voting for him, but is this really true?

      “Romney is more likely to take the U.S. into war with Iran than Obama is”

      I don’t see either Romney or Obama starting another unpopular ground war, and both seem relatively set on keeping bombing runs on the table. Then there are Dem considerations about not looking “soft” which have existed since LBJ. Not too much of a difference, if you ask me.

      1. Romney has explicitly not articulated a foreign policy. It’s likely he doesn’t have one. (It seems pretty clear he has no actual political beliefs at all.) What makes it more likely that he’ll engage another stupid war is that he’s surrounding himself with neocons. The question that presents itself is, thus, how easily manipulated is Romney? He seems smarter than Bush, I’ll give him that.

        The only prediction that seems plausible with Romney is that on Day 1 of his term he’ll say “mission accomplished” but then suddenly realize he’s got four years of actual shit to do.

        1. Why would Romney listen to some random neocon fossil instead of his pollsters? He has the cautionary example of the previous Republican President to draw on, and has said virtually nothing of consequence on the subject.

          I will note that Obama managed to start his own little war without the aforementioned neocon advisers.

          1. Emphasis on “little.”

            1. The correct emphasis should be placed on “war”.

            2. Emphasis on ‘it’s different when my mangod does it’.

              1. Well I’m not against all military action for any reason, so it matters quite a bit how and why it is deployed.

                1. T o n y|7.6.12 @ 8:42PM|#
                  “Well I’m not against all military action for any reason, so it matters quite a bit how and why it is deployed.”

                  And if a dem does so, well, that satisfies your requirements, right, shithead?

                  1. When a Dem engages a massive fiasco on the scale of Iraq, then the parties will be equivalent. Obama’s al qaeda strikes and Libya are widely regarded as successes with minimal cost. The sad thing is I doubt you’re a dogmatic pacifist, you are just obsessed with hating Democrats.

                    1. T o n y|7.6.12 @ 10:07PM|#
                      “When a Dem engages a massive fiasco on the scale of Iraq, then the parties will be equivalent.”
                      Yes, shithead, and Obama continued that for exactly as long as W intended, so, yes, they are equivalent.

                      “Obama’s al qaeda strikes and Libya are widely regarded as successes with minimal cost”
                      Yes. Obama, that asshole, declared war independent of congressional approval. But to pathetic excuses for moral agents like you, that’s just fine.
                      Did you make some comment about the Constitution above, shithead?
                      Make that lying shithead

                    2. “When a Dem engages a massive fiasco on the scale of Iraq, then the parties will be equivalent.”
                      Ever hear of a fellow named LBJ and a little place called South Vietnam?
                      That not a massive enough fiasco for you? Or are you as ignorant of history as you are of everything else?

            3. T o n y|7.6.12 @ 5:56PM|#
              “Emphasis on “little.””

              Emphasis on “lie”, shithead.

              1. The same Dems who voted to go to Iraq, Tony?

                Yeah, keep voting for them. Bang-up job they’re doing.

            4. What!?!

              Obama has fully supported the war in Afganistan from the beginning and would have absolutely engaged in the same action had he been president at the time. Note that this is the longest war in American history, has resulted in ~2500 American casualties and cost over $500 billion dollars.

              There’s nothing small about that!

              Hell, if I had to pick between the two wars, I’d take the Iraq war in a second. Slightly higher cost (so far), but at least that one had some benefits to show for it, ie, replacing an active tyrant with a functioning democracy.

        2. “It’s likely he doesn’t have one.”

          Honestly, we could do worse.

          1. Honestly, we could do have done worse, for the past 12 years.

            FTFY

        3. given that Obama’s policy seems to be “meddle in places where hte likely outcome is a Muslim Brotherhood-type govt”, Romney’s formulation of one does not bother me.

          1. See Iraq and the Shia’ Crescent. The Bushpigs giftwrapped Iraq for Iran. But its ok if you are a Republican.

            1. I’d love to subscribe to your online newsletter. In the future please forward your correspondence to my email, fuckyoushrike@noonegivesashityoustupidpartisan.com

            2. Palin’s Buttplug|7.6.12 @ 6:38PM|#
              “See Iraq and the Shia’ Crescent. The Bushpigs giftwrapped Iraq for Iran. But its ok if you are a Republican.”

              See stupid shriek comments, but their OK if you are a Dem.

            3. Needs more Christfag.

        4. So there’s a chance he will just take 4 years off? I might have to re-think my Johnson vote…

        5. $

    3. IF he thinks the difference between Obama and Romney is that significant, he was going to end up voting for Romney anyways no matter what he said. The only real question is what specific issue was going to scary him enough to switch.

      1. Stop it. Stop pretending you have figured out everybody that doesn’t agree with you.

  8. Sadly, this Gallup also indicates that historically, polled support for third party candidates in June tends to drop by half when actual voting occurs.

    Half of 3% is still double what LP presidential candidates have typically gotten in November. I call that a win. Suck it, Demublicans!

    1. No. It’s over 3 times what any LP candidate other than Ed Clark received.It’s ALMOST 3 times Clark’s vote percentage. I predict Johnson doesn’t break any LP vote records, not even close.

      1. I predict he does.

      2. You might be right SIV. Or not. But the strange thing I see is that Johnson actually has an enviable RECORD as two-term governor who left office popular, after putting a surplus in the coffers, and even though he and his party were overwhelmingly outnumbered in State government by members of the opposing team. Of course, this needn’t translate into floods of voters flocking under his tent, but you’d think it would translate into more, and more respectful coverage, people’s willingness to at least consider his candidacy, etc. But a 3% poll result suggests not. Why?

        1. RECORD doesn’t mean shit. Obama’s record is garbage, even for the people who supported him yet he’s tied right now and stands a decent chance to be reelected. Half the voters don’t even know New Mexico is part of the US, much less Gary Johnson’s “record”.

          1. Hold on…there’s a *New* Mexico?

        2. People figure, the Republican grass roots already rejected him for president this cycle, so why consider him now?

          1. Johnson seems to be running on a platform designed to alienate voters right, left and libertarian. What kind of libertarian wants every household in the country getting a government check every single month?

  9. In theory a multiparty system and a two-party system aren’t that different. You can still get political coalitions within and between the parties. Not having runoff elections in general tends to discourage minor party success. The anomaly in the US is that various factors have led the Republican party to become monolithic and increasingly radical, that is, incapable of compromise and coalition forming.

    1. I know Tony. It is like that time they passed that huge unpopular health care bill without a single Democratic vote. Then there was the time, they rewrote immigration law by executive order.

      You really have no self awareness do you?

      1. I’m aware they passed the Heritage Foundation’s healthcare plan then Obama changed immigration policy in a way favored by practically everyone in the country in both parties, done by executive order only because Republicans think that governing during a Democratic administration means doing absolutely nothing.

        1. Shorter Toney: Heritage, and stop being mean to Democrats.

        2. so as long as POTUS does things you believe are “favored by practically everyone…in both parties”, that’s okay. Remember that when a Repub prez does something you believe to be beyond his power to do but some folks seem to like.

          1. In the presence of a totally, dogmatically uncooperative Democratic congress I’d fully expect a Republican president to do much unilaterally, probably with much less hesitance than Obama.

            1. T o n y|7.6.12 @ 8:44PM|#
              “In the presence of a totally, dogmatically uncooperative Democratic congress I’d fully expect a Republican president to do much unilaterally, probably with much less hesitance than Obama.”

              As a demonstrated ignoramus, your proposed hypothetical means, well, zip.
              Shithead.

              1. Not hypothetical as it was demonstrated amply in the last administration.

                1. T o n y|7.6.12 @ 9:49PM|#
                  “Not hypothetical as it was demonstrated amply in the last administration.”

                  You made the claim, shithead. Prove it.

        3. T o n y|7.6.12 @ 5:39PM|#
          “I’m aware they passed the Heritage Foundation’s healthcare plan then Obama changed immigration policy in a way favored by practically everyone in the country in both parties,…”

          Emphasis in “lies”, shithead.

    2. BWA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA

    3. “Monolithic and increasingly radical” compared to what? They seem to have found some political success, as of late.

      1. Yes, rather peculiarly, since their actual policies are not favored very widely at all. It can only be attributed to the fact that Republicans shamelessly lie about everything all the time, and the American people are pretty stupid.

        1. I really hate to block all the trolls on this board because I think it’s good to hear dissenting voices, but you all have been so ridiculous lately. I know not all Dems are incapable of arguing in good faith, why can’t we attract any here?

          1. I don’t say anything about Republicans that isn’t half as hysterically hyperbolic as what everyone here says about liberals. Yet I’m always called a troll merely for bashing what is supposedly one of two pillars of a uniformly evil party duopoly. Then I’m called one if I ever suggest you guys have an affinity for Republicans.

            1. T o n y|7.6.12 @ 9:48PM|#
              “I don’t say anything about Republicans that isn’t half as hysterically hyperbolic as what everyone here says about liberals”

              Emphasis on “lie”, shithead.

            2. What’s shitty isn’t the Republican bashing, it’s the Obama apologetics. I agree the left gets it worse around here (as they should, given that socialism is the closest thing to an ideological antithesis of liberty, in a world where nobody supports direct dictatorships), but I never see people whitewashing the shitty things Republicans do the way you do for team Blue.

              1. You haven’t been around for the large amount of butthurt whenever someone criticizes Mitt fucking Romney. You people need to be saved from yourselves. Liberals are not your first enemy. They barely have any control of policy debates at all. Republicans, however, are the enemies of us all, because they are very stupid people with power.

          2. Lately?

            He is and always has been an immoral, asinine, fucknozzle.

        2. Shorter Tony:

          Democrats never lie, and even when they do, it’s for the children.

          1. Also:

            Fuck You, That’s Why.

    4. The problem with one, two, and multiparty systems is that they all involve voting for politicians, and politicians are exactly the wrong sort of people to have any kind of power.

      1. Take away their power.

        Term limits.

      2. That logic applies also to teachers and others who work with children, and to entertainment critics.

    5. The difference is that I would expect coalitions in a multi-party presidential system to be more dynamic and thus involve less odd ideological bedfellows. There aren’t many historical examples, as the track record of presidential systems in general (besides the U.S.) is rather poor, being more prone to military coup.

      Even in parliamentary systems that require coalition, the threat of small-party defection is real, and so parties don’t need to compromise their platforms so much (and coalitions aren’t necessary, as I believe Canada allows a government to form with just a plurality). In two-party presidential system, that threat is largely illusory, and it’s easier to enforce party discipline.

  10. IN YOUR FACE GREEN PARTY!

    1. Hey, what about the Constitution Party?

      1. Hey, what about the Natural Law Party?

        1. What about the New Whig Party?

          1. Rent Too Damn High Party!

            1. I personally like the Guns and Dope Party.

        2. dammit

          the Modern Whig Party.

        3. What about the Tories?

          1. I prefer Belleci over Spelling, and Black over either.

            1. You could have just said “Tori Black”, dude. None of the other stuff was necessary. In fact, it was damaging to the ultimate point of what you were saying. Which is “Tori Black”.

              1. He asked about Tories, idiot. As in plural. So unless there’s another clone of Tori Black out there (aside from the one in Warty’s basement) then I need to address the status of multiple Tories.

                1. There is. Her name is Leighton Meester.

  11. Gary Johnson Polls Three Percent

    So Gary’s up. It looks like he’s finally made some inroads to groups outside of regular hitrun; posters.

  12. Multi-party government has certainly turned Europe into a libertarian paradise.

    1. Switzerland’s looking pretty good. Places like

      Europe’s structural political flaws lie in a general lack of checks and balances, civil as opposed to common law courts as a co-equal branch, and virtually no federalism or local control. Parliamentary democracy isn’t great, but we could nonetheless do much better than the current FPTP system.

      1. Switzerland has an extremely weak central government. Always has. We needed something between the AoC and the Constitution in terms of balance; unfortunately, the federalists were a bit too successful.

    2. Socialism turned Europe into a paradise. The fact that they had multiple socialist parties isn’t really an indictment of a multiparty system.

      Currently, we have two socialist parties. One is socialist, the other is national socialist. I’ll let you decide which is which.

      1. Got a spare coin?

  13. “Third Parties: Loved in Theory, Not Practice,…”

    Claimed vs. revealed preference.
    ‘I’m all for fiscal responsibility (except).’
    Kinda like shithead and free speech.

  14. Virgil Goode is a real dog, a real-life anti-immigrant politician (no, not anti-illegal-immigration, actually anti-immigration).

  15. When you have a plurality voting system that is subject to the spoiler effect, this handicaps third parties in the minds of moderate voters. This means third parties must resort to attracting extremists and radicals in order to gain votes.

    Switching to Instant Runoff Voting and/or Proportional Representation (preferably the Single-Transferable Vote variety that doesn’t use party lists) would quickly change this.

    1. There are many voting systems that could break the two party death grip. The actual powers that be do not want them. Only a determined awake electorate can get it done. Keep agitating.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.