Metro

  • Written by Marjorie Hershey, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Indiana University

Former President Donald Trump has claimed at times that he’ll start a third political party called the Patriot Party. In fact, most Americans – 62% in a recent poll[1] – say they’d welcome the chance to vote for a third party.

In almost any other democracy[2], those Americans would get their wish. In the Netherlands, for instance, even a small “third” party called the Party for the Animals[3] – composed of animal rights supporters, not dogs and cats – won 3.2% of the legislative vote in 2017 and earned five seats, out of 150, in the national legislature.

Yet in the U.S., candidates for the House of Representatives from the Libertarian Party, the most successful of U.S. minor parties, won not a single House seat in 2020, though Libertarians got over a million House votes. Neither did the Working Families Party, with 390,000 votes[4], or the Legalize Marijuana Now Party, whose U.S. Senate candidate from Minnesota won 185,000 votes[5].

Why don’t American voters have more than two viable parties to choose among in elections, when almost every other democratic nation in the world does?

Why Trump is more likely to win in the GOP than to take his followers to a new third party These voters supported either Biden or Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Yet 62% of Americans say they’d like the option of voting for a third-party candidate. Mandel Ngan, Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images[6]

Plurality rules

As I’ve found in researching political parties[7], the American electoral system is the primary reason why the U.S. is the sole major democracy with only two parties consistently capable of electing public officials. Votes are counted in most American elections using plurality rules, or “winner take all.” Whoever gets the most votes wins the single seat up for election.

Other democracies choose to count some or all of their votes differently. Instead of, say, California being divided into 53 U.S. House districts, each district electing one representative, the whole state could become a multi-member district, and all the voters in California would be asked to choose all 53 U.S. House members using proportional representation[8].

Each party would present a list of its candidates for all 53 seats, and you, as the voter, would select one of the party slates. If your party got 40% of the votes in the state, then it would elect 40% of the representatives – the first 21 candidates listed on the party’s slate. This is the system used in 21 of the 28 countries in Western Europe[9], including Germany and Spain.

In such a system – depending on the minimum percentage, or threshold, a party needed to win one seat – it would make sense for even a small party to run candidates for the U.S. House, reasoning that if they got just 5% of the vote, they could win 5% of the state’s U.S. House seats.

So if the Legalize Marijuana Now party won 5% of the vote in California, two or three of the party’s candidates would become House members, ready to argue in Congress for marijuana legalization. In fact, until the 1950s, several U.S. states had multi-member districts.

Under the current electoral system, however, if the Legalize Marijuana Now party gets 5% of the state’s House vote, it wins nothing. It has spent a lot of money and effort with no officeholders to show for it. This disadvantage for small parties is also built into the Electoral College[10], where a candidate needs a majority of electoral votes to win the presidency – and no non-major-party candidate ever has.

Parties run the show

There’s another factor working against third-party success: State legislatures make the rules about how candidates and parties get on the ballot, and state legislatures are made up almost exclusively of Republicans and Democrats[11]. They have no desire to increase their competition.

So a minor-party candidate typically needs many more signatures on a petition to get on the ballot than major-party candidates do, and often also pays a filing fee[12] that major party candidates don’t necessarily have to pay.

Further, although many Americans call themselves “independents,” pollsters find that most of these “independents” actually lean toward either the Democrats or the Republicans, and their voting choices are almost as intensely partisan as those who do claim a party affiliation[13].

Two people voting in a large public space. Even though many Americans call themselves ‘independent,’ their voting choices are almost as intensely partisan as those who say they are Democrats or Republicans. Scott Olson/Getty Images[14]

Party identification is the single most important determinant of people’s voting choices; in 2020[15], 94% of Republicans voted for Donald Trump, and the same percentage of Democrats voted for Joe Biden.

The small number of true independents[16] in American politics are much less likely to show interest in politics and to vote. So it would not be easy for a third party to get Americans to put aside their existing partisan allegiance.

Hard to get there from here

The idea of a “center” party has great appeal – in theory. In practice, few agree on what “centrist” means. Lots of people, when asked this question, envision a “center” party that reflects all their own views and none of the views they disagree with.

That’s where a Trump Party does have one advantage. Prospective Trump Party supporters do agree on what they stand for: Donald Trump.

[The Conversation’s newsletter explains what’s going on with the coronavirus pandemic. Subscribe now[17].]

Yet there’s an easier path for Trump supporters than fighting the U.S. electoral system, unfriendly ballot access rules and entrenched party identification. That’s to take over the Republican Party. In fact, they’re very close to doing so now.

Trump retains a powerful hold over the party’s policies. His adviser, Jason Miller, stated, “Trump effectively is the Republican Party[18].” This Trump Party is very different from Ronald Reagan’s GOP. That’s not surprising; the U.S. major parties have always been permeable and vulnerable to takeover by factions[19].

There are good reasons for Americans to want more major parties. It’s hard for two parties to capture the diversity of views in a nation of more than 300 million people.

But American politics would look very different if the country had a viable multi-party system, in which voters could choose from among, say, a Socialist Party, a White Supremacist Party and maybe even a Party for the Animals.

To get there, Congress and state legislatures would need to make fundamental changes in American elections, converting single-member districts with winner-take-all rules into multi-member districts with proportional representation.

References

  1. ^ 62% in a recent poll (news.gallup.com)
  2. ^ In almost any other democracy (www.fairvote.org)
  3. ^ Party for the Animals (www.partyfortheanimals.com)
  4. ^ with 390,000 votes (ballot-access.org)
  5. ^ whose U.S. Senate candidate from Minnesota won 185,000 votes (news.ballotpedia.org)
  6. ^ Mandel Ngan, Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images (www.gettyimages.com)
  7. ^ I’ve found in researching political parties (polisci.indiana.edu)
  8. ^ using proportional representation (ballotpedia.org)
  9. ^ 21 of the 28 countries in Western Europe (www.fairvote.org)
  10. ^ built into the Electoral College (ballotpedia.org)
  11. ^ made up almost exclusively of Republicans and Democrats (ballotpedia.org)
  12. ^ and often also pays a filing fee (www.pewtrusts.org)
  13. ^ almost as intensely partisan as those who do claim a party affiliation (theconversation.com)
  14. ^ Scott Olson/Getty Images (www.gettyimages.com)
  15. ^ in 2020 (www.cnn.com)
  16. ^ true independents (www.pewresearch.org)
  17. ^ Subscribe now (theconversation.com)
  18. ^ Trump effectively is the Republican Party (www.newsweek.com)
  19. ^ U.S. major parties have always been permeable and vulnerable to takeover by factions (www.routledge.com)

Authors: Marjorie Hershey, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Indiana University

Read more https://theconversation.com/why-trump-is-more-likely-to-win-in-the-gop-than-to-take-his-followers-to-a-new-third-party-156001

Metropolitan republishes selected articles from The Conversation USA with permission

Visit The Conversation to see more

Entertainment News

My Musical Journey – Zarbo

People call me Zarbo. I call myself an artist/producer currently focused on creating catchy electronic dance music and exploring new genres that didn’t exist at the beginning of my musical career in the ‘70’s.  I am the original founding member, fr...

Alex Zarbo - avatar Alex Zarbo

News Company asked some Music Industry “Insiders” their thoughts on the current state and future of “Real Music”

To get a feel for the current state of the music industry, NewsCo asked some insiders to share their thoughts. Here is what they had to say. Real Music, to me, means music created by real instruments where you can hear the bow go across the fiddle o...

NewsCo - avatar NewsCo

Navigating the Gender Gap, Part 2 For Women: How to Work with Men in Music

After comparing notes with some of my female music friends, I’ve come up with some pointers for women about working with male colleagues. As I mentioned in my previous article, “How to Work with Women in Music,” these guidelines are based on per...

Angela Predhomme - avatar Angela Predhomme

The Making Of “ Birkenhead Drill”

The process of self producing a full length album in the middle of a pandemic has been an unending lesson in humility, but it’s also affirmed our love of music and more importantly the music we make together. The journey of Birkenhead Drill taught ...

The Jones Title - avatar The Jones Title

A Healing Power of Rap and Rock

What do Jay-Z, Rick Ruben, Neil Diamond, Snoop Dogg, Chago G. Williams, and Toto’s Steve Lukather have in common?  They can be combined into Six Degrees of Inclusion (not separation per-se).   They all have millions of fans and they have all hugely...

Rebecca DGD - avatar Rebecca DGD

Gold selling and Platinum Award Winning Recording Artist Ny'a, giving back to her community

Gold selling and Platinum Award Winning Recording Artist Ny'a, will be Live in concert on Sessions Livestream, Saturday April 24th at 7:00pm EST. Tickets are $5 dollars, with a donation going to Rahway Food For Friends. Ny'a believe in giving back ...

NewsCo - avatar NewsCo

Metropolitan Business News

4 Creative suggestions for your first business card

Almost all businesses nowadays have a business card. Business cards are important to easily showcase your brand, yourself, and your business. However, not all business cards are made the same. Som...

NewsCo - avatar NewsCo

WHEN WORLDWIDE BUSINESS BUILDING POWERHOUSE ASHLEY ANN SPEAKS, LIVES CHANGE

Ask any of her thousands of global followers - especially the 11,000-plus who’ve learned to monetize their social media, and the 700-plus who’ve created six figure incomes – and they’ll be happy to ...

NewsCo - avatar NewsCo

Why Creativity Is So Important In Digital Marketing

The Role of Creativity in Digital Marketing's Future  As marketers, one of the key tasks is to be creative and look for ways to generate demand and interest in our services and products. Creati...

NewsCo - avatar NewsCo

Essential Tips for Developing Corporate Websites

The corporate industry, just like the others, is experiencing a massive technological revolution. Organizations have changed their marketing criteria by embracing the internet. Therefore, do not be ...

News Co - avatar News Co

How to Make a Personal Injury Claim for Minors

As a parent, you want to make sure your child is always safe. But as much as you want to keep him under your watch, it is impossible to be there for him all the time. When he is out there attendin...

News Co - avatar News Co

Dress for Success - Style Essentials for Every Businessmen

Did you ever glance at a person in passing and instantly think, “Wow, they must be successful”? It seems like the rich and successful people always stand out from the crowd without even trying, ...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

Writers Wanted


News Co Media

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion