Third party candidates are not popular

Craig Grabowski’s Sept. 17 letter was infused with so many non-sensical insuations, above and beyond whining about the local rag, I had to comment.

If Grabowski is not pleased with President George W. Bush or Sen. John Kerry, then he may vote for Badnarik or write-in Brown, Cobb or Nader. But please, spare us the inaccurate, melodramatic Soviet analogies. Incidentally, in “a Soviet election” according to my friends who lived there, only one candidate per position was on the ballot.

Even when I have been called for opinion polls—and I have—Nader has always been a choice. Then why does he never poll more than five percent?

The fact that I suspect is hard for Grabowski to accept, is his favored candidates are not popular because they are just not popular and not because of some widespread conspiracy of some group or another or some other “if they were only allowed in the debates” excuse.

To make my case I am going to take the state of California. From Grabowski’s letter I am going to guess that Grabowski is quite left of center, somewhere around the Green Party. I could be wrong of course, and he may hover somewhere around the Libertarian party, but my point holds nonetheless.

In 2002, then-Governor Gray Davis faced a re-election bid among widespread discontent in the state. Californians were displeased with Davis’ handling of the California energy crisis, the failing economy, and the growing state budget deficit. Camejo, the Green Party candidate, only earned five percent of the vote among dismal voter turnout. If there ever was an election where a third-party candidate has a chance, it was in 2002.

Then came the famed and wide-open October 2003 Gray Davis Recall Election. To place your name on the ballot, you needed 100 signatures and $3500. There were 135 candidates on the ballot, and five present during the debate right before the election including Camejo of the Green Party. If there was ever a free-for-all election, this was it. But it didn’t help Camejo much: He scored only 2.8 percent of the vote. The cumulative vote count of all non-Democrat or Republican contestants came to a whopping four percent.

A year later in the mayoral election in San Francisco, the bastion off all that is not mainstream, the Green Party had its best chance. A rather conservative Democrat Gavin Newsome faced Green Party Matt Gonzalez and Gonzalez lost. A third party could not even win a simple mayoral election in their stronghold.

Which raises the following question: If third-party candidates cannot win elections amidst widespread public disaffection with their elected officials, complete ballot and debate access, and in their political strongholds, then exactly when, where and under what conditions will they win an election?

And this brings me back to Grabowski, who needs to consider and lament the fact that he is in the political minority not because we have turned in the Soviet Union, and not for any other reason than that we simply do not agree with him.


Jordon Slott

Grad ’10


Share and discuss “Third party candidates are not popular” on social media.