US election: Third party support surging

US election: Third party support surging, by Ben Kamisar.

Voters now confronted with the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are making something abundantly clear: they want another option.

Surveys over the last six weeks have found a steady but noticeable jump in support for third-party candidates. The biggest beneficiary has been Libertarian Gary Johnson, who has shot up from 4.5 percent to 7.2 percent in RealClearPolitics polling averages. Green Party candidate Jill Stein has also seen an uptick since June — from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent.

The US is developing the same four-party structure as in Australia, despite it’s two-party mechanism for selecting the President that almost locks out third party candidates. From left to right:

  1. Greens.
  2. Labor / Democrats.
  3. Liberal / Republicans.
  4. Nationals and “conservative Liberals” / Libertarian.

Options 1 and 4 are fringe and attract support around 5 to 15% each, while options 2 and 3 are mainstream and attract 30 – 45% apiece.

The US media almost totally ignores the Greens and Libertarians, gives majority and positive coverage to the Democrats (“journalists” in the US are sometimes referred to as “Democrat Party operatives with bylines”, especially after the “journoList” scandal), while giving extensive but minority and somewhat negative coverage to the Republicans.

The Australian media, led by the ABC, give very positive and moderately extensive coverage to the  Greens, somewhat positive and extensive coverage to Labor, generally negative but extensive coverage to the Liberals, and almost ignores the Nationals.

So if you were an ambitious politician who wanted to benefit most from the tailwind of the media coverage, which political party would you join? See the dilemma the somewhat-conservative Malcolm Turnbull had?

Seriously, life is much easier on the left as a politician because the media grant you more appearances and your mistakes are generally ignored and edited out, while on the right you will have difficulty getting into the media except when you foul up. Thus are the politicians trained to be PC.