How Could a Third Party Gain Traction in a Presidential Race?

This is purely an opinion piece. Since third party candidates haven’t won any electoral votes since 1968 I don’t have a sure fire plan.

A third party candidate has two major problems: name recognition and money.

It would be nice if the candidate could self finance their own campaign and had very good name recognition. Most people who meet those two criteria have a lot of baggage (think Donald Trump).

According to Open Secrets Obama raised $632,177,423 and Romney raised $389,088,268 for the 2012 election. As for the third parties: Virgil Goode (Constitution Party) raised $104,852, Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party) raised $2,317,996 and Jill Stein (Green Party) raised $893,636.

This means that a third party would have almost no chance to raise enough money to go on a national campaign. I would propose that the candidate would run in one state.

So what state to focus on? It needs to have reasonable media buys, a pretty close race and the other candidates not focusing on it. Take out the big states with expensive media buys (IE: New York, California, Pennsylvania and Texas) and also take out “swing states” (at least for the start) (IE: Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and Wisconsin). The two strongest states I would consider are Maine and Mississippi.

Maine has the advantage of the split electoral votes (so you could focus on individual congressional districts). Mississippi has gone for third party candidates in the past (it’s been awhile but it could work).

Hopefully the candidate could be from one of those states taking care of the name recognition (for that state at least). The idea would be to get to the point where the candidate is polling at 5% in the state and then get press to cover. If the press really starts to pick this up then the campaign could start to insist that the candidate is included on all national polls and into the debates. The way to get the media interest is to make the story as sexy as possible. Making absurd claims that any poll that doesn’t have the candidate on it is BS makes a better story and gives free press.

Once the national name recognition goes over 75% and if money isn’t a major issue (dreaming big here at hypothetical campaign’s HQ) then it’s time to go national and start to push the major parties in swing states.

After the candidate gets into the debates and has big press coverage it really is up to him or her to finish the job. It will come down to how the candidate connects with the American people/turnout.

Now is this strategy a “winning strategy”? No, the candidate would need a few miracles to actually win the election. However this strategy could maximize a candidate and his party presence on the national stage. This sets up congressional elections, gaining momentum and eventually having a third party on the national stage.


~ by realfactsandbeer on November 8, 2012.

One Response to “How Could a Third Party Gain Traction in a Presidential Race?”

  1. Note: Maine did elect an independentish senator

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