There seems to be, in recent years, an abundance of close
political races at all levels, and an unpleasant delay often
then in knowing who has won.
In the intraparty primary election contests, the cause is
usually a large number of relatively credible candidates
which not only result in close races, but also produce
primary winners with only pluralities — that might turn out
to be a weakness in the ensuing general election, especially
when challenging an incumbent.
In general elections, the cause often is the presence of
candidates of one or more minor parties who deflect voters
from either of the two major parties.
Even in presidential elections the phenomenon occurs, as it
probably did in 1968 (George Wallace) and 1992 (Ross
Perot), and almost certainly in 2000 (Ralph Nader).
In 2020, accumulated new voting rules, including early voting,
expanded absentee voting standards, drop box availability,
and a highly polarized political environment also produced
delays in determining election results in some states — and
particularly in the presidential election. This caused partisan
doubt, justified or not, in the outcome not caused by a third
It is not yet clear if third party candidates will be decisive in
many 2022 national midterm elections for major statewide,
U.S.house and senate races, but the potential is already
visible in some states, including Minnesota where at least
two congressional seats and the governorship appear to be
In the recent past, five third parties in Minnesota have likely
affected elect outcomes, including the Green Party, Legal
Marijuana Party, and Independence Party on the left and
center-left (presumably diminishing results for Democratic
(called Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party or DFL in this
state) candidates; and the Libertarian Party and the
Constitution Party on the right (presumably diminishing
results for Republican candidates,
This was true in the Minnesota gubernatorial races in 1998,
2002 and 2006 when Independence Party (IP) candidates
changed the outcome —with IPer Jesse Ventura actually
winning in 1998. In the Minnesota 7th & 8th congressional
districts, third party candidates on both the left and right
seem to have affected outcomes in some recent elections.
(It is important to note that third party voters cannot
automatically be assumed to be votes lost to a major party.
Some of them would not vote at all if they did not have a
third party choice.)
Particularly in MN-1 and MN-2 congressional districts this
cycle, a Legal Marijuana Party candidate has already filed
ahead of the May 31 deadline, and could boost the
November prospects for the GOP nominees.The race for
governor, according to the most recent polls is likely to be
close, and could be significantly affected by third party
nominees on either the left, right or center.
If current voter attitudes, as indicated by polls across the
nation, persist until November, the 2022 elections might
be a blowout, and third party candidates might not affect
many outcomes, but the recurrence of very close elections
in recent years, and the increase in third party choices,
should not be underestimated.
Copyright (c) 2022 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.