Third Parties and Their Effect: Talking Points for the Diane Rehm Show

  • Party Identification
    • Long-term decline in identification with either party: Democrats and Republicans
    • Increase in identification as Independent
    • 2016 seems to have frayed these party bonds even more: especially for Republicans
      • But not yet sure if this is just short-term, or a long-term trend

long-term party id

americans need for 3rd partyThird Parties in Global Context

  • There is more experience with the effect on polls and voter calculus in other countries with multi-party systems
  • Polls typically overstate the strength of third party candidates versus election outcomes
    • Why?
    • Voters might, indeed, be enthused by a given 3rd party candidate.
    • But when they walk into the voting booth, they make a strategic decision not to throw their vote away AND vote for an option with a better chance of winning.
  • Social scientists call this “Strategic Voting” and this can wreak havoc on polling and forecasting
  • Additionally, third parties (and 4th and 5th, etc.) have often served as a means to express a protest vote
  • This vote may not materialize in the voter’s mind until Election Day, and may be devoid of ideology. Again, making polling a very difficult enterprise.
  • Example 1: Unmaterialized Third-Party Vote. Brazilian 2014 Presidential election and Marina Da Silva.
  • Example 2: Third Party as a Protest Vote. Italian 2013 Parliamentary Elections; Grillo and the 5-Star Movement get 25% of vote and force out incumbent.

2016 in the US will be a disruptive election and disruptive elections are about the Protest Vote

  • The 2016 US Elections will be Disruptive in Nature
    • 85% of elections are slam dunks to predict: change or continuity (“throw the bums out” or “more of the same”)
    • 15% are what I call disruptive elections. Here past is not prologue; the future becomes less certain.
      • In such scenarios, voters have often lost belief in the political class to deliver / to look out for their interests
    • In the US right now, large majorities believe that “the system is broken” and that “the traditional political class no longer cares about the common person”

system is broken

  • The Horse Race: 2- and 4-Way Race
    • Taking the average of the polls, Clinton leads Trump by 2 points (Ipsos data & RealClearPolitics aggregate average)
    • However, when both Stein and Johnson are included Clinton v Trump become even! (Ipsos data & RealClearPolitics aggregate average)
      • Strong indication of protest vote at work; though unsure of how will materialize on election day
    • Older and more educated more likely to migrate to third party candidates.

Johnston takes more from Trump than Clinton but only marginally so; Stein takes almost exclusively from Clintongeneral election trump clintongeneral election with 3rd partydemographic profile