Any Third Party Candidates Must Be Destroyed In 2020
Third party candidates (and the electoral college) have not been kind to the Democratic Party and the American people in the 21st century. On two occasions in this young century, third party candidates have allowed the GOP presidential nominee to win the electoral college while losing the popular vote. In both instances, the Democrats ignored the third party challengers and hoped they would go away. It didn’t work.
In 2000, Al Gore was running for president in a time of peace and prosperity to succeed Bill Clinton. At the time, Clinton enjoyed a healthy 65% approval rating. As it turned out, the 2000 election was probably the closest presidential election in American history. Bush’s official margin of “victory” in Florida was 537 votes out of almost six million cast. (The real margin of victory for Bush was 5 to 4 in the U.S. Supreme Court. )
The election was too close and Gore (allegedly) lost in the electoral college due to the presence of Ralph Nader on the ballot. The number of votes cast for Nader in Florida and New Hampshire was much more than Bush’s margin of victory in those states. In the absence of Nader, Gore would’ve carried Florida and/or New Hampshire. If Gore had carried either one of those states, he would have won the electoral college and we would have been spared eight years of the disastrous Bush Administration.
Similarly, the third party candidacies of Jill Stein and Gary Johnson elected Trump in 2016. In Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, the third party spoiler’s portion of the vote exceeded Trump’s margin of victory. If Clinton had picked up the 75 electoral votes in those four states, she would have finished with 307 electoral votes.
The Russians knew that the Stein candidacy was helping Trump since they launched a major social media blitz on behalf of the Green Party nominee in the closing weeks of the 2016 campaign. NBC News reported in 2018 that Russian allies of Vladimir Putin “tweeted the phrase “Jill Stein” over 1,000 times around the time of the election.” According to Andrew Weiss, a Russian expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: “The fact that the Russian propaganda apparatus helped create awareness and support for her candidacy and promoted her candidacy is critical to our understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Russians played this extremely adroitly.”
At the present time, Trump is an historically unpopular president who will need help from third party candidates (and the Russians) if he is to thread the needle again and win 270 electoral votes. Trump has been stuck around a 43% approval rating since he has been in office. That is down from the 46% portion of the popular vote he received in 2016. That reflects the fact that moderate Republicans who reluctantly voted for Trump and have abandoned him. They’re not coming back.
Trump can only get to 270 votes in the electoral college if the Democratic opposition is split up or otherwise diluted by the presence of third party candidates. If we nominate Joe Biden, I anticipate that some disaffected progressives will be tempted to vote for the Green Party again. On other hand, if the Democrats nominate Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, Howard Schultz will be a tempting option for moderate to conservative Democrats.
This time around, we Democrats can’t take any chances. Any third party candidate must be attacked early and often by either the Democratic nominee, the DNC and/or a Democratic Super Pac. We just can’t ignore them and hope they will go away. Instead, we must make it clear to wavering Democrats that a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for a Trump second term. This is a national emergency — this country and the world can’t afford another Trump term.
If we Democrats remain united, there is no reason we can’t win in 2020. We were united in 2018 and picked up 40 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and up and down the ballot. We can do it again in 2020!