1912 - Teddy Roosevelt (no slacker of a president) gives the election to Woodrow Wilson:
1948 - Truman narrowly defeats Dewey, thanks to Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats:
1980 - John Anderson siphons votes from Carter, electing Reagan:
1992 - Ross Perot costs GWB re-election:
2000 - Ralph Nader costs Al Gore the election:
I'd support "Teddy Roosevelt".
You want a viable 3rd party? Eliminate the electoral college. Until then, you're playing into the hands of the most cynical guy on the field.
Does the electoral college suck? Yes, but there is a valid function in there somewhere.
There's a reason we have two houses in the legislative branch, one with representatives assigned by population and one with representatives assigned by territory. If you're a state, you get two senators. Period. If you're a state, you get however many congressmen as you're entitled to according to census. Period.
"Congressman Ted Stevens" doesn't get to build a bazillion-dollar "bridge to nowhere." Only Senator Ted Stevens gets to do that.
This is why we have three branches of government: the one that passes the laws is based around the system above. The one that carries out the laws is won by "popular vote." The one that determines whether the laws are fair is appointed by the other two so that they can be "above politics." There isn't anything fundamentally wrong with the way it works other than that an instantaneous national election does not need delegates in order to certify it.
There is no valid function to the electoral college. At all. Presuming there to be one does not make it so.
I also agree that the branches of government are set up to address this, the "Senator" Steven's example is a good one. But as you know, the executive tends to set the agenda for congress by use of the bully pulpit.
You know what, now that I think about it... fuck it, abolish it. I have lived in Michigan, Montana and North Carolina. In MI and NC I felt (feel) like I am part of a vibrant political landscape where we have national visibility. In MT, I never felt that. The electoral college never gave us enough "clout" to pull they eye of leadership in our direction.
I guess it poses no benefit. And if you want to see the prez on the campaign trail and you live in Kansas, best get your ass out of Wichita and head to a real city.
Look: Utah has 5 electoral votes. It has a population of 2.7 million people.
California has 55 electoral votes. It has a population of 37 million people.
In order to get Utah's electoral votes, you have to win the popular vote in Utah. Win 50.0001% of the popular vote, and 5 electoral votes are yours - not two and a half. So a democrat is likely to skip Utah entirely, and democratic voters in Utah are going to feel mighty disenfranchised.
In order to get California's electoral votes, you have to win the popular vote in California. Win 50.0000000001% of the popular vote, and 55 electoral votes are yours - not 27 and a half. Where's the population in California? Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, fuck all the rest. Even if Sacramento were to vote 100% republican, there's still no point for any campaigning there because you have to win over Gavin Newsom territory to get the electoral college.
Meanwhile, there's nothing stopping an "electoral voter" from deciding to vote opposite of how his state goes. And hey - Nebraska and Maine distribute their electoral votes according to population, just because. So what you're left with is candidates not giving a shit about Nebraska and Maine because they don't get the whole pie, and candidates not bothering with a state unless it's in question.
Not only does the electoral college pose no benefit, it poses very real detriments. Not only that, but a plurality of people polled have called for it to be abolished... since 1944.
the fact that we're having this discussion at all, in a thread about 3rd party candidates, indicates that ignorance of the process is the biggest issue in elections today. You're a smart guy; you should know this stuff. The fact that you don't illustrates that people don't want you to know how it works.
I've never voted in a state where the electoral votes didn't go in the direction I'd have wanted them to. Subsequently, I've never considered how disenfranchising it must be to know that your vote counted for nothing, zilch.
I imagine that getting rid of the EC would help stimulate voter turnout too. When you KNOW that your vote could have an impact, you're more likely to participate.
What's the hold up? How could a politician not look good by supporting a popular vote based electoral process?
That's where the whole discussion of a 3rd party candidate becomes relevant. Politicians are concerned about keeping their seat above all else and so they play the numbers game to skew it in their favor. One interesting thing I've seen in the news lately is the process of Gerrymandering where districts are redrawn in order to pack certain types of voters together in order to control and predict elections more easily. Take a look at these districts and tell me if they seem reasonable:
I'm all about having a third (fourth, fifth) party. And I bet you that when Ron Paul loses the primary, he'll be so heavily persuaded to run as an independent that he just might do it. If that happens he has my vote. I'd really hate to see the EPA go under his watch but that'll probably happen anyway. At least he'll try to get rid of the Fed.
On a side note - living in Canada for that past 4 years has been a real eye opener as to how things could be different. There are roughly 5 parties that all have a fairly strong voice, but what's interesting is how that works at the provincial level where certain parties gain support in some places but don't in others. In Vancouver, the Green party just won a seat (the first in Canadian history I think) because their platform is more sympathetic to British Columbians. Of course Le Bloc Party can only keep power inside Quebec so they can't do shit in the west. I think that if each state in the U.S. starting introducing parties particular to their concerns, then the senate and therefore the country could have a much more interesting and nuanced discussion.
Let's say you're running for dog catcher. Nobody knows your name. You're running against someone else for dog catcher. Nobody knows their name, either.
"Dog catcher" is an ostensibly bipartisan office. Let's say you're running on a platform of no-kill shelters and mandatory licensing or something reasonable like that. You don't need a political party. Let's say the other guy, however, declares himself Republican.
So now you're spending your money to get your name out, while your opponent is spending someone else's money. Even if your message makes the most sense, you're going to have to spend more to get it out. Not only that, but when the Republican party sends out a flier telling everyone who to vote for, your name isn't on it.
Extrapolate that from "dog catcher' up to, oh, state senate. Let's presume there are two Democratic candidates, both qualified, both talented, but one wants to, oh, appoint electoral votes based on popular vote rather than winner-take-all. The other guy just wants to get elected.
Who do you think the Democratic party is going to throw their weight behind?
The electoral college turns local politics national. Eliminating it eliminates the local power of national political parties. And national political parties decide races.
"However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion."
GEORGE WASHINGTON, Farewell Address, Sep. 17, 1796