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It’s Time for a Political Favor

I don’t do this often, but for once, I can’t keep my mouth shut.

Most of us live in solidly red or solidly blue states. For example, I live in New Jersey. It’s going blue in November, thanks to Newark, Trenton and Camden. My vote is effectively canceled out by our good Democratic friends in the big cities, so in the end, it statistically doesn’t matter who I vote for in this state. Its electoral votes will go to Obama.

Admittedly because I believe most of the ideals of the Libertarian party, I’m voting for Bob Barr anyway. You’ve probably seen him on The Colbert Report. He’s the most prominent 3rd party candidate.

Problem is, we have a LOT of “third parties” around here, mostly because they don’t get enough airtime, and they’re not included in the nationally televised Presidential Debates. Why not? Because they specifically exclude any candidate from the debate unless they meet the following criteria:

  1. They’re eligble under the Constitution to be president. That’s OK, they should be.
  2. They have ballot access in enough states to mathematically win the presidency via the Electoral College. That’s OK, too.
  3. They have to poll at a minimum of 15% nationally.

Now how do they expect parties that AREN’T “red” or “blue” to poll 15% nationally if they don’t receive the same nationwide coverage for their candidates? We’re not kooks, you know. Matter of fact, Zogby International did a nationwide survey (also reported in the LA Times), and guess what? 69% of unaffiliated Independent voters (meaning not registered as any one party) are in favor of allowing Bob Barr into the debates. And the younger the voter, the more likely they were to want to hear another opinion. Naturally, only 39% of surveyed Democrats and 41% of surveyed Republicans were in favor. Overall, 55% said they wanted a third voice in the debates.

It’s a loaded system set up in favor of the Democrats and the Republicans. How do we fix it?

We all drop the idea of being “spoilers” or saying “my vote doesn’t count” or anything like that. We come together and realize the only way we can effect any change is to get behind something and push. The last time that happened, Ross Perot got into the debates. And he opened everything up, and the reds and the blues got scared.

Then in 2000 they added the “15% polling” clause into the debate requirements. They were scared of Ralph Nader that time. He was the first “big” third party candidate since Perot, and they didn’t want their precious boat rocked.

Every vote counts. Right now, the Libertarian party is polling at 3% according to CNN and 6% according toZogby. Once a third party, ANY third party, reaches 15%, they don’t just get access to the debates. They could even get access to federal matching funds, which you receive by getting 5% or more of the popular vote in a previous election. 15% in opinion polls and 5% in popular vote, and then you can finally see and hear change that would ACTUALLY make a difference in this country.

Red state? Blue state? If your state’s not “in play,” help the country out.

Your vote counts.

Vote for real change. Vote Libertarian.


  1. Aaron wrote:

    I don’t think a third party could win even if it was very popular. They need the electoral college votes which are controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties, and those parties aren’t going to hand over their power. For better or worse, there will always be only two political parties in America that have a chance at winning the presidency.

    Of course, Congressional seats are another matter. That’s where 3rd parties can succeed, so that’s where they should focus their efforts.

    Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 1:34 pm | Permalink
  2. Rasputin wrote:

    I agree, 3rd parties can and have succeeded on the local/congressional level.

    Thing is, it doesn’t HAVE to “always” be that way. It’s not about the final goal, it’s about building the momentum to get there. There has to be a meaningful NATIONAL discourse that doesn’t involve “Sarah Palin’s daughter’s pregnant” or whatever mudslinging crap’s going on now.

    I’d be all about throwing everything behind ANY party that can get REAL change discussed on a national level. If I could help push the Greens over 15% polling or 5% popular vote, I’d do it. Right now, the realistic chance is the LP.

    Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 2:25 pm | Permalink
  3. mynn wrote:

    Can you do a “where third-party votes help” for dummies list?

    Start with the data on fivethirtyeight as to which states are likely to dominate red or blue, and then after listing super red or super blues, note if Barr is going to be on the ballot.

    I’m in a state that is 2:1 McCain, in a zipcode that donates 2:1 McCain. has me as a “yellow” or swing state (wouldn’t that be purple?).

    Do all the states count popular votes towards electoral votes equally, is there information collated somewhere where one person could say “okay, this state is going this way, so if I vote red it means not much, if I vote blue it means not much, but if I vote Barr it means we’re closer to the mythical 15%.

    I’m looking at this for my state, but a plea such as yours could be helped, I think, with access to more complete data that could help folks make that determination easily.

    Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 3:02 pm | Permalink
  4. Rasputin wrote:

    @Mynn: Ask and ye shall receive…

    Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

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