Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Third Parties Could Have Big Impact in 2024

Independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. kicks off petition drive to get on Colorado ballot at Aurora rally | Photo: Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics

National polls and history show that when the major parties nominate two unpopular presidential candidates, third parties become more attractive and can make a difference in the electoral vote. In 2016, third parties received nearly 6 million votes. In the three most closely contested states, the liberal third party candidate received more votes than Clinton lost by. Third parties were held to 2 percent nationwide in 2020 and 3 percent in Colorado (see table below). But they have 14 percent of the current national polling average (RealClearPolitics). RJK Jr. leads with 10 percent.

US and Colorado Presidential Election Results 2016 & 2020

Third party candidates represent a serious challenge to Biden, especially in battleground states such as Arizona and North Carolina. The first significant challenge a third party must overcome is ballot access. The Green Party has access to most states’ ballots.

Although RFK Jr. may get on the Colorado ballot, the state is not likely have a serious presidential contest. But, with a 48 percent unaffiliated voter registration, a record number of minor parties (8) attracting a fragmented electorate and a history of voter independence demonstrated in 1992 when Ross Perot received 23 percent of the vote, a third party candidate could expect considerable support. In the recent Super Tuesday primary, the two major party frontrunners lost a total of two-fifths of their fellow partisans (33% for Haley and 8% uncommitted).

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