When arguing with friends why they shouldn’t support 3rd party candidates in the national elections, I never had any solid evidence why it would never work. They made good points about principles and needing to ‘send a message’ but Duverger’s Law is concrete proof that voting 3rd party, in our current election system, is plain dumb and helps give us elected people like Donald Trump.
Duverger’s Law provides that “single-member plurality districts produce two-party systems.” That is, when multiple candidates compete for a single job, and the job goes to whoever gets a plurality of the votes, the candidates will tend to sort into exactly two political parties. Third parties will vanish.
According to Duverger, this sorting happens because “the brutal finality of a majority vote on a single ballot forces parties with similar tendencies to regroup their forces at the risk of being overwhelmingly defeated.”
Duverger’s insight is that similarly-minded candidates have no choice but to join together into one of two parties, lest they wind up being divided and conquered. Similarly, third parties wind up undermining democracy because they often cause the candidate who is least preferred by a majority of the electorate to win the election.
The premise of Schultz’s doomed campaign is that there is a burning hunger for a candidate who combines Republican economic policy with Democratic cultural values. Think of him as Paul Ryan, but pro-choice.
But there’s no appetite whatsoever for this kind of candidate outside of a narrow band of Wall Street billionaires and cable news executives. A seminal study of the 2016 election plotted the American electorate on a chart measuring their views on economic and social policy. You see that quadrant in the bottom-right? That’s socially liberal fiscal conservatives. Notice that it’s almost empty.Meet the dead Frenchman who proved that Howard Schultz is an arrogant twit
The tired argument of “both sides are the same” is not true but if you have three candidates and one of them have views similar to one of the other two then that 3rd person will split the vote of the one they are close to in views.
If people want to see more progressive elected officials then we MUST change our election system to tamp down the unhealthy power of the two major parties. One way to start is increase access to voting and move to a proportional representation voting system just has ranked choice voting.
I also think our election system should be federally based so that the system used is the same in all 50 states.
Unlike how Senator Mitch McConnell feels, election day should be a federal holiday.
After our election system is reformed, then voting for someone like Dr. Stein will actually mean something.