Centrists Don't Need a Third Party to Win
Political Scientist Brendan Nyhan thinks a centrist third party won’t happen. He concludes:
Even the voters who would prefer a centrist third-party candidate have no incentive to support him if he is in third place because doing so will hurt their second choice. Absent extraordinary circumstances, it's almost impossible to dislodge the parties and create a dynamic where a third party candidate can become one of the top two contenders. This is why so few liberals supported Nader in 2004, and why Perot lost by large margins in 1992 and 1996..
Unfortunately, he has a point. As we analyzed a few days ago, the electoral college is a monster for a third-party presidential candidate. It wouldn’t be enough to win a plurality of the national vote. The candidate would have to win a majority of electoral votes. Even the most successful third-party candidate would almost certainly be unable to get the 270 needed. At best, the candidate would win just enough to prevent either major party candidate from getting 270, thus throwing the whole election into the House, where the third party candidate wouldn’t even be a factor.
Right now, the best plan of action for us centrists is to forcefully advance our principles and bring our vision into the mainstream. We don’t have to tie ourselves to either major party and we certainly don’t have to form a third party. But we have to organize. We have to develop a coherent message and a strong strategy.
As always, we welcome everyone’s thoughts and energy on this. Millions of Americans are sick and tired of the divisiveness promoted by the two parties. Our voices must be heard.