A Third-Party Candidate in 2012?

posted at 8:10 am on August 27, 2011 by Karl

Pollsters Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen are exactly the sort to claim to “see evidence on the ground that from the discontent coursing through the electorate there may emerge a third or even fourth political party that would be competitive in next year’s presidential election.” Their WSJ op-ed raises a number of questions, not the least of which is who might be paying them to poll and focus group the issue.

For those nascent third and fourth parties, Caddell and Schoen point to the ostensibly “centrist, bipartisan, Americans Elect” and the Tea Party movement. Aside from the fact that Americans Elect currently has ballot access in only four states, the group so far appears to becoming a haven for the left. On one hand, I find myself agreeing with lefty David Sirota that “centrist” third-party groups fizzle because the center-left already has a grip on the establishment. On the other hand, Sirota offers up the Working Families Party as an alternative; I tend to doubt the unholy trinity of Big Labor, ACORN remnants and Naderites can build much of a power base outside the deepest Blue states.

The Tea Party would be a more viable foundation for a third party in the rest of the country. However, the movement took as large a beating as anyone in the wake of the recent debt ceiling deal. Schoen’s own polling showed a tea party presidential candidate could get 15%-25% of the vote, “depending on the precise alignment of the candidates.” Presumably, the maximal alignment would be if Mitt Romney won the GOP nomination and Sarah Palin ran independently. However, as Palin recently stated she could support someone like Romney and “anyone but Obama,” this scenario seems unlikely.

Caddell and Schoen note “rumblings” about a Donald Trump candidacy. However, while third-party candidates tend to arise in times of greater tumult, such candidates tend to represent either an issue going unaddressed by the two established parties or a schism within one of the established parties. Trump’s own toe-dipping in GOP waters helped make him a bad fit for either category. Rather than emulate the H. Ross Perot example of can-do business tycoon crusading against the debt bomb, he chose to be a one-month wonder on the fringe issue of Birtherism. Thus, he is damaged goods on the right and unsuitable to the center or left.

Caddell and Schoen further note the historical examples of Perot and John Anderson. Their claim that both garnered high levels of support is dubious. Anderson topped out at 25% and ended with 7% (the sixth-best showing for a third-party candidate in the 20th century). Perot briefly led the 1992 campaign, but withdrew in a fit of paranoia, only to re-enter and finish with 19%. However, Perot ascended in 1992 by addressing an issue (the deficit/debt) a large segment of the public felt was not being addressed adequately by the establishment parties; it became symbolic of a general failure of government (Carter-era malaise played a similar role in 1980, along with the intra-GOP struggle Reagan won). However, the Perot-esque voter in 2012 will likely have a GOP nominee with plenty to say about the debt bomb. Most of the field would at least seem outsider-ish; even Romney can try to use his private-sector background to his advantage.

Moreover, as someone on the right, the prospect of a third-party candidacy does not particularly bother me. The recent history of such candidacies — e.g., Wallace, Anderson, Perot ’92, Nader — were all indicators of a loss for the party holding the White House. The chief counter-example would be Perot ’96, where Bill Clinton rode an improving economy to a less-than-50% victory. As of yet, there is little sign of an improving economy or a person with the media savvy and money of a Perot with an unaddressed issue to ride.

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Negative. Even if it’s Romney, all hands on deck for the GOP nominee. Of course, if it’s somehow Huntsman, then I’ll skip the race.

The 2012 race is too important. Do you want the replacement for Kennedy and Scalia to be in Obama’s hands? Obama will get one more shot when Ginsburg retires shortly, fearing Obama might lose. But that’s a trade of an older lib for a younger lib.

If Obama gets to appoint Kennedy’s successor or Scalias’s successor, God help us.

BuckeyeSam on August 27, 2011 at 8:17 AM

A “third party” could emerge IF an establishment candidate loses to the obamanation in ’12…

Gohawgs on August 27, 2011 at 8:20 AM

I am a one issue voter. My issue?

SCOTUS

ladyingray on August 27, 2011 at 8:22 AM

The question for voters is whether you want radical left or down-the-middle conservatism.

Using the picture of a football field, do you want a guy standing on his own 5-yard-line or a guy standing on his own 20-25-yard-line?

BuckeyeSam on August 27, 2011 at 8:25 AM

Ummmm……letmethinkaboutitno. It’s an MSM wetdream. It’s the only way Obamao can win. Stop repeating their “memes”!

shawk on August 27, 2011 at 8:32 AM

The last time there was a third party candidate, we got Bill Clinton…

It is the ONLY way Obama can get reelected…

No thanks…

Khun Joe on August 27, 2011 at 8:34 AM

Yes, a 3rd party may be a viable endeavor….but not for the next election. We should all focus on getting rid of as much of the progressive infiltration, at all levels , that we can in the coming election. Then we can think about the need for a Conservative Party.

VBMax on August 27, 2011 at 8:36 AM

KJ,

The last 3rd party candidate was Nader and we got GW…

Gohawgs on August 27, 2011 at 8:37 AM

VBMax on August 27, 2011 at 8:36 AM

Yep…

Gohawgs on August 27, 2011 at 8:37 AM

If Ron Paul runs as a third party candidate, I’m worried. Otherwise, meh!

Naturally Curly on August 27, 2011 at 8:49 AM

The possibility of a third party candidate arises in two scenarios, each one entirely different than the other.

First is the organically created party – a group of people dissatisfied with the status quo decides to start a new party. This I view in a positive way as I have no common ground with the Democrat Party and little common ground with the Republican Party.

Second is the malicious third party candidate, a candidate whose very existence in the race is as a result of shenanigans by one of the two parties – I’ll leave it to you to guess which party I think will do this.

The malicious candidate will be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Obama reelection campaign. His singular goal will be to garner enough votes away from the Republican candidate to throw the election to Obama.

I am absolutely certain that this will come to pass as that was exactly how Deval Patrick succeeded in winning reelection as Governor of Massachusetts. Patrick is a dreadful politician, every bit as much the affirmative action, guilt assuaging limousine liberal choice as Obama.

Why?

Because Deval Patrick is the Beta version of Barack Obama.

When you delve into who was responsible for getting Patrick elected and how they did it and compare it to who was responsible for getting Obama elected and how they did it, you’ll find that the people and the strategies are exactly the same.

Therefore, when you look at the people and the strategies employed in Patrick’s reelection, you will see the Beta version of Obama’s reelection strategy.

I am absolutely certain of it. Obama cannot run on his record – it is an absolute failure. However, that is of no consequence. It is a stone cold calculation of the electoral college and how to manipulate that scenario such that he winds up with the most votes.

He can certainly do that. None of those guys is stupid. Evil and traitorous, yes. Stupid, no.

turfmann on August 27, 2011 at 8:57 AM

Their WSJ op-ed raises a number of questions, not the least of which is who might be paying them to poll and focus group the issue.

Try… Jon Huntsman and his media/Dem/Obama Team accomplices.

If a conservative should win the GOP nomination, he will definitely run as a third-party candidate in order to siphon votes and gift Obama the win. I expect it to work out just as it did for John Anderson – meaning not at all.

TheRightMan on August 27, 2011 at 9:06 AM

I am a one issue voter. My issue?

SCOTUS

ladyingray on August 27, 2011 at 8:22 AM

That’s always the number one priority.

SlaveDog on August 27, 2011 at 9:19 AM

I am a one issue voter. My issue?

SCOTUS

ladyingray on August 27, 2011 at 8:22 AM

That’s the danger in a squishy moderate, like GHWB.

Fallon on August 27, 2011 at 9:31 AM

Any third party candidate running against Obama will be dealt with in the harshest terms by his slavish media rumpswabs. If you thought Nader was a nobody the last time he ran you ain’t seen nuthin’. The media will be so hostile to him that he will need a security detail to protect him from Chris Matthews,Chuck Todd and Janeane Garofalo.

Any third party candidate to run against the GOP nominee will be hailed by the Obama state media complex as the most reasonable and viable candidate that they have ever seen from the right and they will scream out his name 24/7.
If you doubt that then all you have to do is watch the way they are trying to use Jedi mind tricks on us with this Huntsman guy. He has like two percent of the polling but they treat him like the front runner to run interference against Rick Perry.

NeoKong on August 27, 2011 at 9:35 AM

The only way a 3rd-party candidate will be viable is if:

1. American voters finally realize en masse that the D’s and R’s are both worthless.

2. That candidate’s voting base outdoes the Tea Party and mobilizes enough support on their own.

Uncle Sams Nephew on August 27, 2011 at 9:43 AM

You have Trump on the homepage as the 3rd Party Candidate??? I know one sure fire way that he does not, nominate Palin for GOP and then I seriously doubt he would run 3rd party

ConservativePartyNow on August 27, 2011 at 10:01 AM

The only way a 3rd-party candidate will be viable is if:
1. American voters finally realize en masse that the D’s and R’s are both worthless.
2. That candidate’s voting base outdoes the Tea Party and mobilizes enough support on their own.
Uncle Sams Nephew on August 27, 2011 at 9:43 AM

The only way I see that happening is if we have an Armaggeddon scenario that makes the great depression look like a walk in the park. Then I can see a successful third party candidate rising from the ashes.

tommyboy on August 27, 2011 at 10:02 AM

It appears that Big Labor is abandoning the Democrats next year and creating their own political organization – at least according to Trumka.

A new Labor party, perhaps? It would be a disaster for the dems next year.

JeffWeimer on August 27, 2011 at 10:17 AM

It appears that Big Labor is abandoning the Democrats next year and creating their own political organization – at least according to Trumka.

I think Trumka is just positioning himself for another stimulus payoff and maybe a second run at card check.

tommyboy on August 27, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Obama’s re-elect internal numbers should be pretty easy to gauge in the upcoming 6-8 months based on how much the big media pushes the meme that Americans are clamoring for a centrist third-party candidate …. as long as he comes from the sub-set of so-called “disgruntled Republocans”.

You will not see a groundswell of support in print or on the air for a third party challenger to Obama’s left, and even if a disgruntled Democrat like Evan Byah were to consider a third party bid, he would get roughly the same treatment Joe Liebermann received in 2006 when he was too supportive of Bush’s War on Terror.

The most delusional in the media still think someone like Michael Bloomberg and his Frum-supported “No Labels” party would be a drag on the eventual GOP nominee, but most have figured out he’s likely to hurt Obama more than his Republican challenger. That explains the Huntsman boomlet — less (obvious) baggage, and with the same ability as Mayor Mike or Perot in 1992 and ’96 to basically self-finance a third party run (or in Jon’s case, go to daddy and say “I want to start my own independent political party to run for president and I need $500 million dollars”).

jon1979 on August 27, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Unless Rick Perry shoots himself in both feet I don’t have anything to fear from a 3rd party candidate.

Metanis on August 27, 2011 at 10:26 AM

There is little chance of any third party candidate going anywhere in next year’s election, unless there is a revolt of Tea Party and conservative people away from the GOP because the latter did something completely heinous and detrimental. However, there would have to be the creation of an actual new third party that the mass exodus would move in to. One thing to remember is that there is no actual Tea Party as an entity.

The Tea Party should really be lengthened to Tea Parties, because there are different factions, if you will allow me to use that term, that each focus more on a certain issue more than the others and vice verse. At the same time, though they are different factions that refer to themselves as a Tea Party, they all have some unifying characteristics and beliefs: the government spends and taxes too much. Another thing to remember is that the members that make up the Tea Parties are not purely conservative, but range in ideology. Most of the people who make up these TPs have never been actively involved in the political process except by voting.

The polls are not to be trusted at all because it’s way too early in the election for them to have any meaning, whether you like the poll results or not. Do not make the mistake of discounting the TPs because of where they stand in the polls. The Tea Parties represent the heart and soul of the country. They will achieve victory.

And then there is Donald Trump. Mr. Trump has made statements and hints that they may, if the feeling is right, to jump in to the race at a later date as an independent. It is my firm belief that Mr. Trump is only saying these things because it benefits Mr. Trump. He will not run in the race, because it is ultimately not in the best interest of Trump. (Sorry, I’m sort of channeling Bob Dole third-person persona a bit.) Thus, while Mr. Trump will continue to go on TV and say things that will keep him in the news, that is as far as he will go. If am wrong and he does jump in the race as an independent, he will crash and burn miserably.

Weebork on August 27, 2011 at 11:56 AM

A Big Labor led 3rd party will take Big Labor and its cohort into extinction: they will lose, lose badly, not get any support and lose political clout.

A Democrat-disaffected PUMA based 3rd Party has some potential, but has nothing to coalesce around. Any PUMAs that were serious have defected from the Democratic party as it will not respect their votes and have either gone home or joined the Tea Party. Basically there is no longer a ‘moderate’ Democratic party, but a socialist party calling itself the name of an older party.

A Tea Party 3rd Party might be viable, but the general decision has been to take over the Republican party from the inside out and remake it at the local and State level, then dismantle the old party apparatus at the National level. That digestion started in 2010 and continues to this day. If the Republican elite establishment tries to over-rule the State and local organizations, then they will find themselves, effectively, disbanding the Republican party as it collapses inwards and the support structure (which is made of connected individuals) moves to its own venue. That venue could be a transitional 3rd party or the other party… whatstheirnamenow… oh, yeah… Democrats. They are as vulnerable to a sudden show up at empty districts as the R’s were/are.

Anyone left out? Yes, the jobless disaffected who suddenly have oodles of time on their hands and are getting fed-up with the politics that have made them jobless. They aren’t Tea Partiers, they aren’t radicals, they hate any attempt to ‘organize’ them, and just want to work for a living and be left in peace from government. Gotta watch out if these folks ever show up at the polls since they could be part of that massive 48-49% that didn’t show up in 2008. And they aren’t looking for ‘solutions’ they are looking to vote anyone in office out of it, even if that means throwing unskilled, uncouth, ill-mannered bozos in…. its hard to do worse with that than the elite establishment and minority Tea Party faction.

Someone might want to try and outreach to them.

Before they get some funny ideas in their heads about government accountable to the people and showing up to vote.

ajacksonian on August 27, 2011 at 1:03 PM

There will be a third party candidate, it’s a question of what niche that third party candidate will fill, and that will depend on who is the Republican nominee. A John Anderson ( Huntsman ) type third party candidate will likely take as many votes away from Obama as he would from a conservative Republican candidate. A conservative third party candidate will obviously take votes away from just the Republican. Such a conservative third party candidate will only happen against a rino like Perry or Romney and the “moderate” t.p.c. against Bachmann. That candidate would have to campaign hard for the gay wedding vote to differentiate himself from Bachmann, and that will force Obama to expose his homosexual agenda publically or lose all his homosexual voters.

Those are some of the obvious dynamics of this game.

Buddahpundit on August 27, 2011 at 1:54 PM

Anyone left out? Yes, the jobless disaffected who suddenly have oodles of time on their hands and are getting fed-up with the politics that have made them jobless. They aren’t Tea Partiers, they aren’t radicals

ajacksonian on August 27, 2011 at 1:03 PM

The working poor are very stupid, unfortunately. If they knew what was in their best interest, they would embrace the politics that favor an “employees market” over an “employers market”. It would be pretty easy to show them that the more cheap laborers that are on the market, the less value their labor will have, and consequently, the fewer jobs will be available to them and at lower pay.

Ending legal and illegal poverty immigration along with putting high tariffs on imports, along with forceful explanations as to why these things are in the people’s best interest, are the key to winning over the workers.

It is also necessary to explain that not all inflation is equally terrible. Labor based inflation on a competitive playing field closes the gap between rich and poor, which makes a lot more sense than making the poor poorer by driving down labor costs so that the rich can save a dollar or two on their greens fees.

Buddahpundit on August 27, 2011 at 2:22 PM

The only way I see that happening is if we have an Armaggeddon scenario that makes the great depression look like a walk in the park. Then I can see a successful third party candidate rising from the ashes.

tommyboy on August 27, 2011 at 10:02 AM

Hate to say it, but your assessment isn’t much of an exaggeration. We’re really hung up on the Big Two.

Uncle Sams Nephew on August 28, 2011 at 12:12 PM