Sunday, May 29, 2022

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Third Parties in 2022

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

party candidate.

It is not yet clear if third party candidates will be decisive in

many 2022 national midterm elections for major statewide, 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

close races.

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.


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