Blaming Third Parties for Major Party Losses Ignores the Elephant in the Room
By Robert Peck
November 19, 2018
In the wake of Republican losses in the recent election, I ran across an article suggesting that third-party candidates may have contributed to the defeat of some Republicans. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. However, to simply blame third parties and independents for major party losses is to miss a much bigger point.
First – Third-party and independent candidates very rarely take enough votes to be the deciding factor in an election. Even when a third-party candidate takes as many votes as the difference between the two major party candidates, the third-party candidate’s votes do not come exclusively from voters who would have all voted for the same major party candidate had the third-party candidate not been in the race. Some who typically vote D will on occasion crossover to vote R, while an R might vote for a D under certain circumstances.
Then there’s the 39 percent of the public who identify as independent. Some of those people will vote for the D, some for the R, and some for a third-party or independent candidate.
In a race where there is a third-party candidate, if that candidate had not been in the race, most of the people voting for him probably would have voted for one major party candidate, with a smaller portion going to the other major party, and some simply would have chosen not to vote in that race, because neither of the major party candidates represented their values.
Therefore, for a third-party or independent candidate to be the determining factor as to which major party candidate wins, the third-party candidate would have to receive substantially more votes than the difference between the D and the R.
Secondly – On the extremely rare occasion that a third party candidate actually does receive enough of the votes that would have otherwise gone to a particular major party candidate so as to cause the major party candidate to lose, it proves that the major party candidate did not represent the values of a sufficient number of voters to deserve to win. Therefore, some of the voters chose instead to turn to a candidate who actually did represent their values and was deserving of their vote.
It should be remembered that votes belong to people, not parties. It is the job of parties and their candidates to earn the votes of the people. If they fail to do so, they deserve to lose. This is a fundamental principle of free-market economics that conservatives profess to believe in, the idea that if a business does not produce the product that people want, it deserves to fail. That principle applies to political parties as well. Therefore, the defeat of a Republican candidate who did not faithfully represent the values of a sufficient number of their constituency should be lauded by conservatives as a victory for free-market ideals.
Finally – on the extraordinarily rare occasion when a major party does provide a candidate who represents the values of that party’s base, but a third-party candidate with the same values runs anyway, and takes enough votes to cause the major party candidate to lose, it stands as proof that the major party has so betrayed their base for so long, that some of their base finally became alienated to the point they were unwilling to vote for an otherwise good candidate who was tarnished by the label of a party that has earned their contempt! With around two-thirds of all voters disapproving of both major parties, it’s a wonder either of them wins any elections.
The elephant in the room that is ignored by blaming third parties for major party losses, is the fact that a third party representing the values of a constituency does not cause a major party to lose – a major party failing to represent the values of a constituency is what causes a major party to lose.
Robert Peck began his political activism in the 1990s, first with the Ross Perot independent Presidential campaign, followed by the Republican revolution of 1994, then the Pat Buchanan Presidential primary bid of 1996, which lead to his acquaintance with former Nixon administration official, and Constitution Party founder, Howard Phillips. It was through Phillips, and involvement in the Constitution Party, that Bob was introduced to the principles of Christian Constitutionalism that have come to shape his political views.
Bob has been publishing political commentaries since 2008, facilitated local presentations of the Institute on the Constitution educational course, participated in organizing various political events and campaigns, and has served in the Constitution Party at both the local, state and national levels. Bob is a landlord in Spokane Valley, Washington, where he enjoys hikes in the woods and sometimes riding his motorcycle the long way home from church over the mountains and across the plains.
Visit Robert Peck's website at https://robertpeck.net