Third-Party Candidates look to Sway Election

Graphic by Davon Johnson

Shelton Jackson​

Sept. 28, 2020

Republican Incumbent Donald Trump and Democratic Nominee Joe Biden have dominated the headlines surrounding the 2020 presidential election, but other third party candidates look to stir up the election by getting on ballots in at least one state to push their own agendas. 

The main third-party candidates include Libertarian Party candidate Jo Jorgensen, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, and Constitution Party candidate Don Blankenship. William Biebuyck is a political science professor at Georgia Southern University, and he explained the overall political positions of these parties.

“You would see under those parties a rethinking of government and what it does and what it shouldn’t be doing because those parties bring ideas about politics and about political authority and what policies should look like to the table that are very different in some ways than the Democrats and Republicans,” said Biebuyck.


Dr. Reed Smith is a communication arts professor at Georgia Southern University and he said he has considered voting for a third-party candidate in this election as well as in previous elections due to dissatisfaction of the two major parties' candidates.

William Biebuyck, a political science professor at Georgia Southern University, explained the overall political positions of these parties.

“I think it’s difficult for people today to make a decision between Republicans and Democrats in some instances because the two parties have split so much along hot button issues or societal issues,” said Smith. “Some people who are looking to vote have difficulties agreeing with all of the platforms of one of the candidates or the other.”

The third-party effect has played a significant role in the outcome of elections in the past.

 

According to a CNN article,  in the 1992 presidential election, businessman Ross Perot ran as an independent and used the power of television to build his platform to garner over 19 million votes during his campaign.

 

This is a strategy people have seen used in this election process as music artist Kanye West has tried to use the power of social media to get his name onto ballots as the candidate of the Birthday Party.

 

However, everyone is not buying the hype surrounding third-party candidates in this election.

 

Dr. Holly Cowart is a lecturer at Georgia Southern University and she believes voting for a third-party candidate doesn’t do any good. 

“I just feel like you know that the top two tier candidates are gonna win, so thinking about voting for a third-party candidate makes me feel like I’m throwing away my vote,” said Cowart.

Graphic by Davon Johnson

However, we have seen in past elections how voting for third-party candidates can be effective in taking away votes for the two major party candidates.

 

 This is what happened in the 1992 election. According to an article on wbur.org, Perot was able to use the anti-incumbent views of voters against the Incumbent George H. W. Bush to gain 19 percent of the votes which aided in Bill Clinton’s victory over Bush.   A similar scenario could play out in this upcoming election.

William Biebuyck on Third PartiesAmanda Arnold
00:00 / 05:20

Want to know more about what Professor Biebuyck is talking about? Read below.

 

Germany’s Proportional Representation in Parliament 

Each German over the age of 18 has two votes every four years to elect 598 members into parliament called Bundestag. One vote is for their local representative and the other is for a specific party. There are 299 seats available for each side at the beginning of the process. If the local representatives account for more seats than the allotted party seats, more seats are added from other parties to even it out. This system is in place to prevent one side from having more power than the other.
 

Americans 

The United States uses the electoral college system in order to decide a President, and popular vote to decide members for the House of Representatives and Senate. In total, they create a Congress full of 535 members. Citizens can vote for representatives for their state and this will decide which party will have the majority of members in Congress for the next two years. As of right now, there are more Republicans than Democrats in Congress. The only way to “flip” Congress is for citizens to vote for new representatives for their state.

Ashton Christianson asks Georgia Southern students if they have voted or would consider voting for a third party candidate.

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