Like Bernie Sanders, I am voting for Hillary Clinton in November. However, many of my friends and others in my social media circles are thinking about voting for one of the third-party candidates for President.
Keep calm. In a two-party system, we are trained to be skeptical of third-parties. That is fine, but it might also lead us to overreact.
Not all third-party votes are bad.
If you know somebody who normally votes Republican but also loathes Donald Trump, do not waste energy trying to convincing to them to instead vote for Clinton if they are dead set on voting for the Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. While a vote for Clinton would be preferable (more votes the merrier), a Republican-voter NOT voting for Donald Trump is a win. Clinton needs more votes that Trump in any given state to win those respective electoral college votes.
In late July, many people are either noncommittal of undecided. They might be considering a Johnson, but that have not made up their mind. Make your case for Clinton. However, you might want to encourage them to vote for Johnson if they are waffling between Johnson and Trump.
Not everyone will vote for Clinton. We don’t need everyone to do so.
The third-party vote will shrink between will shrink between now and November.
The current RCP average of the four-way presidential contest is as follows:
The thing that pops out at me from this average is that even with Johnson and Stein in the picture, about ten percent is still undecided. There is going to be a lot of movement within these numbers. However, I am predicting now that Johnson and Stein are currently at their peak for 2016. Their current numbers are more a reflection of dissatisfaction, discontent, and hurt feelings that many people have with the primary process and the nomination results.
Johnson will likely do relatively well, but as Rand Paul and Ron Paul discovered, there is not a huge public demand for a libertarian Presidential alternative.
Stein is currently benefitting from disaffected Sanders supporters. However, as November approaches, the specter of Trump and the efforts of Sanders himself (who has become a passionate and persuasive voice for rallying around Clinton) will likely lead many to vote for Clinton…even if they are not enthusiastic about it. Stein, will likely get around 2 percent of the vote. That would be significantly more than 2012, but still a small sliver of the pie.
People are in love with the idea of a third-party candidate, not the current candidates
Johnson and Stein are still relative unknowns. They do not have the resources or organizational structure to change that. But increased exposure and attention can have negative as well as positive outcomes. Getting to know candidate doesn’t always cause us to like them.
Remember the Electoral College!
Depending on what state your friend lives in, it might not matter at all. If they live in California or Idaho, move on. Heck, they might be boldly proclaiming their support for Stein…while living in a state where Stein will not be on the ballot.
Shaming and bullying will not help.
Being a jerk by ranting about Ralph Nader in 2000 only convinces the convinced. A serious Green-voter has heard it a million times.
At the end of the day, individual votes are not really what matters. A better use of your time will be motivating other Democratic-voters, especially those who are lukewarm. Turnout will be the key. Get those people involved and voting.
If somebody is set on voting for Stein or Johnson, see what down-ticket candidates you can get them to support. Most people voting for Stein or Johnson are doing so in response to Trump and Clinton, they are likely still open to voting for major party candidates in state-level and Congressional races.
Focus on the end-game.
If your goal is to elect Clinton and defeat Trump, crushing the third-party candidates and their supporters is not the way to do it. Trump is the opponent. Not Johnson or Stein. Focus.