The Stew Reporting on government and politics

Election spoiler alert?

Politics | A look at this presidential campaign’s third-party options
by Harvest Prude
Posted 10/01/20, 05:36 pm

Elias Gannage, a 23-year-old voter in Virginia, said he plans to vote straight-ticket Republican—except for the top of the ballot. An evangelical Christian, Gannage said he feels he can’t vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden because of his support for abortion. But he also said he can’t vote for President Donald Trump, whom he called an “immoral candidate.”

“What I’m communicating to my own party is that [their candidate] is not good enough,” Gannage said.

For most Americans, the 2020 election presents a binary choice between the two major parties. But a number of third-party and independent candidates want to give disenchanted voters other options.

Third-party candidates get little attention unless they act as “spoilers.” But voters like Gannage push back against the notion that a vote for a third party steals from one of the major candidates. They say their votes send an important message of dissatisfaction with the options the two major parties have presented.

A quick scan of Ballotpedia shows more than 30 third-party candidates on the ballot in at least one state across the country. In addition to Democratic nominee Joe Biden and incumbent President Donald Trump, two other candidates, Jo Jorgensen and Howie Hawkins, have made it on enough state ballots to theoretically win at least 270 Electoral Colleges votes, the number needed to become president.

Jo Jorgensen is the first woman the Libertarian Party has nominated for president. The 63-year-old Clemson University psychologist has said the government should shrink to half its size, end U.S. involvement in foreign wars, and reform the justice system. The Libertarian Party selected Jeremy “Spike” Cohen, a tech entrepreneur, as its vice presidential nominee.

Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins is an environmental crusader who calls himself the “original Green New Dealer.” Hawkins did not get on the ballot in as many states as his predecessor Jill Stein did in 2016.

Other third-party candidates range from a former child actor to a coal executive. Perhaps most well-known among them is rapper Kanye West, who has dubbed his party the “Birthday Party.” West did not get on enough state’s ballots to have a chance to win, but he has insisted his bid is serious.

Former child actor Brock Pierce is running as an Independent candidate. Pierce, who starred in the Disney movies The Mighty Ducks (1992) and First Kid (1996), said he did not expect to win, but he wants the House of Representatives to decide the next president. In his ideal scenario, he would win enough states to make sure neither Trump nor Biden gets a majority of Electoral College votes.

In 2016, two third-party candidates, Green Party nominee Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson, won more votes than Trump’s margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

“It’s not that third party candidates are taking away votes from the major two parties. It’s more that the major two parties are not putting forth candidates that people believe in,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a 40-year-old voter in Maryland. Lewis typically votes Republican but said he couldn’t stomach either of the candidates come November. He plans to vote for Jorgensen.

“In the past, I would have defined myself as a single-issue voter, but I thought, if the candidate is right on being pro-life, they should be right in other ways,” Lewis said. He said Trump had lost his vote due to his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his attitude towards racial unity.

Gannage said he isn’t sure yet who he will vote for or possibly write in, but he believes it’s important to show up and participate: “True change will happen not from the top down but from the bottom up.”

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Harvest Prude

Harvest is a political reporter for WORLD's Washington Bureau. She is a World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College graduate. Harvest resides in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter @HarvestPrude.

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  • My Two Cents
    Posted: Fri, 10/02/2020 02:34 pm

    Thank you, Harvest Prude, for giving air time to a third party candidate. I feel that Jo Jorgensen is the only reasonable person in the race. 

  • OldMike
    Posted: Sat, 10/10/2020 12:18 pm

    I can't believe you have actually read the Libertarian Party platform. And actually, neither have I, because it seems to be impossible to find on the internet. Why?  I don't know, but that lack of information discourages me from seriously considering the Libertarian Party. 

    What I did find is a bunch of Dr. Jorgensen's personal views on some issues:  her position on immigration--legal or illegal--is not much different from the Democrats', and she advocates no restrictions whatsoever on abortion. She's in favor of total legalization of drugs--not pharmaceuticals, but the "recreational" kind. Her statements on healthcare betray an extreme ignorance of economics--she claims we would save 75% on our healthcare costs by eliminating regulation and allowing free competition between insurers.  That might sound great but it's totally unrealistic. 

    I highly doubt Dr. Jorgensen is the candidate who can lead the USA to great things. 

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Sun, 10/04/2020 08:30 pm

    A third party candidate vote by an Evangelical is essentially a vote for Biden. A vote for Biden is a vote for abortion and the destruction of America and likely the end of our religious liberty. I don't say this lightly as the Democrats have said they will pack the courts and add in a couple new states.  Not only that but they will push to allow illegal immigrants the right to vote which will end the country as we know it.  Also, we will see the violence grow as the radical socialists and communists seek to dismantle America by taking away the police and taking away our gun rights leaving us at the mercy of the mobs. Make no mistake about it, a vote for a third party candidate is a vote to destroy our nation!

  • heathercoulter
    Posted: Wed, 10/07/2020 11:37 am

    I respectfully disagree that a vote for a third party is a vote for Biden (and I also would respectfully disagree that just because a person is a Christian they must prefer Republicans).   Pragmatism is not what we are called to.   I will vote the way that my conscience directs me to vote, pray, and trust God to do what He will.   We need third party voices and ideas to enter our government.   One party that Harvest Prude did not mention, but has garnered a lot of attention in my area, is the American Solidarity Party.   I encourage thoughtful Americans to read their platform and learn about how to write-in candidates.   

    Posted: Thu, 10/08/2020 02:13 pm

    What Elias Gannage and other Never-Trumpers fail to recognize is that we aren't voting for Biden or Trump. What we are voting for is a party platform and vision for America.

    The Democratic Party platform calls for raising taxes, universal health care, Green New Deal mobilizing every aspect of American society to 100% clean and renewable energy at huge costs, guaranteed living-wage jobs for everyone, confiscating all guns, restoring taxpayer funded abortion up to and including birth, restricting school choice, passing the Equality Act and making America a world-leader in LGBT rights, packing the courts, making Washington DC and Puerto Rico states ensuring 4 additional leftist Senators, increasing government control over every aspect of our lives – and that is just for a beginning.

    The Republican Party platform calls for creating 10 Million New Jobs in 10 Months and 1 Million new small businesses; enact Fair Trade Deals that Protect American Jobs; 'Made in America' Tax Credits; eradicate COVID-19; manufacture all Critical Medicines and Supplies for Healthcare Workers in the United States; refill Stockpiles and Prepare for Future Pandemics; end our reliance on China; further cut prescription Drug Prices; put Patients and Doctors Back in Charge of our Healthcare System; protect Social Security and Medicare; provide School Choice to every child in America; increasing freedom and liberty for all Americans – for a partial list.

    Which vision for America resonates with you? Do not make this election about personalities. Make it about the future of America.

  • OldMike
    Posted: Sat, 10/10/2020 11:53 am

    I agree.  The platforms of the two major parties could hardly be more different.  To me, the big issue is abortion, but on virtually every other issue, I absolutely cannot support the Democratic Party positions.  

    I believe a voter who is letting his choice be determined by the personalities of the candidates is seriously mistaken.  A vote for Biden is, in my honest opinion, a vote for his party to impose their destructive policies on our Nation. 

    I believe a vote for a third-party candidate is also a refusal to stand against the destructiveness of Democratic Party positions.