With polling in the presidential race narrowing every day, four “third-party” candidates who are each on the ballot in a handful of swing states nationwide could garner enough votes to turn the election for President Barack Obama or Gov. Mitt Romney.
Looking back at the 1992 and 2000 presidential elections, CNN
reported the potential that Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson are unlikely to be elected to the White House. That, however, does not mean they won’t affect who gets there.
Despite the potential for any or all of the four to peel votes off from Romney or Obama, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called them “non-factors” because Americans understand how much is at stake when they step into the voting booth this year.
“[Voters] are not going to throw their vote away when we have an election here that's about the future of America," Priebus said. "I don't see that happening."
According to CNN’s polling experts, none of the four most well-known third-party candidates will receive more than four percent of the vote, possibly eliminating the potential as spoilers.
The most successful third-party candidate in recent years is H. Ross Perot, who received 19 percent of the vote nationally and is credited with helping Bill Clinton defeat then-President George H.W. Bush.
In 2000, Al Gore lost the state of Florida by 537 votes, a fraction of the 94,000 that Green Party candidate Ralph Nader received. Nader, a consumer activist who appeals to many Democrats, received the bulk of the blame for Gore’s loss in that close election.
Although pollster Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, said that even 100 votes could sway the election, CNN Polling Director Keating Holland questioned whether Anderson, Goode, Johnson, or Stein could have an affect, let alone win.
For many voters, she said, the four will appeal most likely to people that already don’t like Obama or Romney and never intended to vote for either.
“In a hypothetical world in which the race were only between the two major party candidates,” Holland said, “a lot of minor party voters would have just stayed at home."
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