Sunday, November 4, 2007

Was my vote wasted - if I vote for a third party candidate

November 2008 is coming up fast and with it a new presidential election. A big question that comes up is can a third party candidate win?

The U.S. presidential election actually consists of 51 separate elections, one in each state plus one in the District of Columbia. (for the sake of simplicity we will refer to the District of Columbia as a state). Forty nine of these states follow the “Winner Take All” system, two do not. Any presidential candidate acquiring a plurality of the popular votes within each of these 49 states, wins ALL of that state’s electoral votes. That means that even if a candidate acquires 49 percent of the votes in a state, he will get NONE of that states electoral votes.

Therefore, there are 49 states where the losing candidates are not entitled to ANY electoral votes! - no matter how close the election was in that state. Therefore, third party candidates etc, that may get lots of votes, but not enough to win the state, get no credit for any of the votes they got within the state.

In New York state Mayor Bloomberg is talking about investing one billion dollars to set up an independent political party. In order for any political party to be effective it must win a majority of the presidential electoral votes. Should it not win a majority of the electoral votes, its efforts would have been in vain.

The probability of an independent third party winning a presidential election seems fairly far fetched. Believe it or not, the “Winner Take All” system was intentionally instituted by our “founding fathers” in order to maintain a two party system.

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