The recent special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional district has renewed the “debate” about “viable candidates” and “third parties”, with the usual “conclusion” that “supporting a third party candidate is almost always wrong (or just a really bad idea).”
I’d like to challenge that claim and eve suggest that the “problem” in NY-23 had nothing to do with a “bad Republican” or “too many candidates” on the ballot, but rather suggest that there were too FEW candidates. “Too few?” you ask. Yes, there were not enough candidates on the ballot. New York is one of the few States that allows “fusion”; a practice that allows multiple ballot listed parties to nominate the same candidate. New York currently has five parties with guaranteed ballot access, those being the Democratic, Republican, Independence, Conservative & Working Families (WFP) Parties. Yet, there were only 3 candidates on the ballot. Normally the Conservative Party cross-nominates the Republican and the WFP cross-nominates the Democratic nominee with the Independence Party being the “swing vote”. However, there are occasions where the WFP and/or Conservative Party nominate their own candidate when they see the “major party” candidate as “unacceptable” to their cause. That “cause” normally being to garner enough votes to remain ballot qualified.
However, back to the special election. William L. Owens was on the ballot as a Democratic and WFP candidate; Dede Scozzafava (even though she “dropped out” of the race) was on the ballot as the Republican and Independence Party candidate with Doug Hoffman as the Conservative Party candidate. It will be a few days until the election results are certified; but it is my guess that the Conservative Party ballot line may have gotten the most votes of the 5 ballot listed parties. This doesn’t make Doug Hoffman the winner, but if each party would have nominated a different candidate, (with the same party results), then he would have won. I may be wrong, and if so, will report such; but I digress.
I realize that the closeness of the results of NY-23 will not convince hardcore supporters of the “two-party” system to vote for a “third party”, nothing will sway some people. However, I hope this will open a few eyes of those who generally vote for the “lesser evil”. At times like this, I’m reminded of the John Q. Adams quote, “always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” Yet, this still doesn’t get to the root of the issue. “Why do people feel the need to vote for ‘someone that can win’?” Most likely because people like to feel connected to a winner, the same reason people support certain companies or sports teams. It is the “bandwagon affect”. People will pass on a candidate they support 90% for a candidate they support 60% because they buy into the flawed “wasted vote theory.”
Allow me to pose this question in response to anyone that still believes in the “wasted vote theory”; When you purchase ice cream, do you purchase the flavor you like OR do you choose between vanilla and chocolate, because those are the two most popular flavors?