Diane talks with Mary McCord, Legal Director at the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection and Visiting Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center.
Guest Host: Susan Page
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have secured their party nominations for president–but not necessarily the hearts of voters, many of whom are dissatisfied with not only their choices for president but also with the way change happens–or doesn’t–in Washington. It’s created room for third party candidates to gain recognition, and rise in the polls, too. Yet many experts say the way America chooses its president doesn’t allow for outside parties to make a difference. The role of third parties in american politics-and what impact they’ll have in 2016.
- Hans Noel Associate professor of Government at Georgetown University. He is the author of "Political Ideologies and Political Parties in America" and a co-author of "The Party Decides: Presidential Nominations Before and After Reform."
- Clare Foran Associate editor, The Atlantic.
- Clifford Young President, Ipsos Public Affairs, a firm that leads opinion polling for Thomson Reuters; adjunct professor, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; lecturer, Columbia University School of International Affairs and the University of São Paulo
Poll: Do We Need A Third Party?
A majority of Americans, 60%, say a third major political party is needed because the Republican and Democratic parties "do such a poor job" of representing the American people.
Who Is Supporting Third Parties?
Twenty-nine percent of 18 to 24-year-old voters choose “other” when faced with the choice of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as president, according to the latest polling from Reuters/Ipsos.
Latest Reuters/Ipsos Poll: The 4-Way Race
With third parties included in the polls, the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump becomes even closer, says Clifford Young of Ipsos. Read more here.
MS. SUSAN PAGEWelcome back. I'm Susan Page of USA Today, sitting in for Diane Rehm. And with me in the studio, Hans Noel, an associate professor of government at Georgetown University. He's the author of "Political Ideologies and Political Parties in America" and a co-author of "The Party Decides: Presidential Nominations Before and After Reform." We're joined also by Clifford Young, president of Ipsos Public Affairs, the lead opinion pollster for Thomson-Reuters. He's an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced Intl Studies. And also Clare Foran, an associate editor at the Atlantic. Clare spent some time with Jill Stein last week at the Philadelphia convention. We'll be interested in what she heard.
MS. SUSAN PAGEWell, Cliff, let's start with you. I know that you've got some new polls this morning. What do they tell us about the prospects for Jill Stein and other third party candidates in this particular election?
MR. CLIFFORD YOUNGWell first and foremost, probably better than average, and we can talk in more detail about the data. What I want to do is step back for a second and put this election in a broader context. At Ipsos we have a really cool database of 500-plus elections around the world, both parliamentary and presidential elections. And they allow us to create typologies. And what do we know from that?
MR. CLIFFORD YOUNGAbout 85 percent of all elections are basically slam dunks. We know what's going to happen, more of the same or throw the bums out, continuity or change. But there are 15 percent of elections, which we call disruptive elections, where past is not prologue, where the rules of thumb both political and in terms of polling and forecasting don't necessarily apply. They can be variable across context, but typically the public opinion in these elections is in a very surly mood, public opinion doesn't trust the political class to deliver on their basic needs, and that -- and this type of disruptive election is what we believe we're seeing today in the United States.
MR. CLIFFORD YOUNGIf you look at broad polling, what we're finding is that we have super-majority or strong majority belief that the system is broken, that the system is rigged against the common person, that the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. That sets the stage for a disruptive election, and how that manifests itself, Bernie Sanders and Trump in some ways are manifestations of this same underlying trend, or in a third party like Stein or Johnson. We're not quite sure how it will manifest itself, but we're in this very interesting context where the protest vote becomes very important.
PAGEWell Hans, does this election, the kind of context, the landscape for the election, mean that prospects for third party candidates is different than it's been in the past?
MR. HANS NOELWell, I mean, I think I agree with Cliff that this is an election in which there's higher than usual support for a third party candidate, in part because people are dissatisfied with their candidates, I think especially the Republicans, in that Trump is an atypical Republican. So people who would be -- find a Republican appealing don't find him appealing because he's not like other Republicans.
MR. HANS NOELI'm not sure exactly how, you know, I'm sure that Cliff's model that gives us a disruptive election, it plays out that this fits that model, but there's also a lot about this election that's very similar to past elections. I mean, if you look at the matchups between Clinton and Trump in state by state, they are very well-predicted by the matchups between the Republican and the Democrat in the last, like, four election.
MR. HANS NOELSo the landscape is very similar. I think a lot of Republicans are going to find Trump appealing, a lot of Democrats are going to find Clinton appealing. The problem is, of course, that it only takes a handful of states that are very, very close, and then suddenly this sort of disruption can be -- can make a big difference. So I suspect that if you look across to all the voting results, it's going to look very similar to previous elections except that it might turn out that, as in 2000, which was a very predictable election, a third party candidate actually made a difference, and that could be a big deal.
PAGEA lot of people believe in 2000 the candidacy of Ralph Nader in Florida flipped that state and, with it, the election, although Ralph Nader himself disputes that analysis. Clare, I know you've been out looking at outside the two major parties, the Green Party and others. What have you found this year in your reporting?
MS. CLARE FORANWell, I think that -- so yeah, this past week I was in Philadelphia for the Democratic convention, and I got to spend some time with Jill Stein there, and I've also reported more broadly on other third party efforts, the way the Libertarian Party is trying to sort of seize on the discontent in this election. What I've heard across the spectrum, you know, from the Libertarian Party, from the Green Party, from other even more fringe third parties is that they -- they report increased membership applications, donations, a surge of interest, and I'm sure that that is true, given the historic unpopularity of the candidates.
MS. CLARE FORANBut in Philadelphia, you know, Jill Stein was sort of explicitly pitching herself as a Plan B to Bernie Sanders supporters, and I talked to a lot of unhappy Bernie Sanders supporters about whether or not they would vote for Jill Stein, and I think in some cases -- and I think in some cases there's sort of a misunderstanding or perhaps a lack of understanding on the part of the voters as far as the structural barriers that exist to actually electing a third party candidate because I heard voters really talking about, you know, why not vote for Jill Stein, I think it could really sort of essentially -- this attitude of I think she could really win, you know, if enough of us.
MS. CLARE FORANAnd I think that there's maybe -- you know, there's so many barriers to a third party candidate actually kind of being viable that I don't necessarily know if a lot of the people that I was talking to had an awareness of.
PAGEWell, you look at how she did in 2012. She got a -- not quite a half-a-million votes, which sounds like a lot, but that's .36 percent of the votes cast last time. She's doing better than that now, Cliff, in polling. She's in the low single digits. But she does register. And Gary Johnson from the Libertarians does even better. Different kind of year?
YOUNGWell, I actually do think it's a different kind of year. First and foremost, talk a little bit technically about polling, we're always very scared at this time of the year about overstatement of third party candidates. People are very enthused. They like those alternatives. But when they show up on an election day in the voting booth, they go, well, you know, I'm not -- I like -- I like Stein, I like Johnson, but I don't know if I want to throw my vote away. I'm going to go with a potential winner.
YOUNGWe call that strategic voting. That's really tricky for pollsters. But going back to your initial question, yes, I actually do believe that, especially in the states, the third party candidates can tip the balance. Again, this is a protest year, this is a disruptive year, and very interestingly, when you put out the option of neither candidate, we're at five -- neither of the two principal candidates, Trump or Hillary, we're at five to six percent.
YOUNGAnd that five or six percent, let's say it's overstated by a factor of two, that's still a big chunk of voters that could tip the scales, specifically in the states.
PAGESo nationwide, two percent of the vote makes no difference at all. You get into a swing state like Ohio, maybe it does matter. So Hans, where would you be looking at? What states should we be watching?
NOELWell, it looks like the swing states are kind of the same swing states as we've seen before, because as I say, the sort of underlying partisan divide is still there. So, you know, Ohio, Florida. Interesting, Trump is doing really well in Florida right now in the polls, despite the fact that I think a lot of analysts think that he'll have a hard time in a state with so many Latino voters. But he's -- he's close there, so something could happen.
NOELI think Ohio is going to be very close. Even Pennsylvania could conceivably be close, and that would be enough to make it matter.
PAGEWhere would you be watching, Clare?
FORANWell, I think for me the most interesting question is going to be -- well as we said, swing states, but more specifically where do Jill Stein and Gary Johnson actually end up. Do they decide to actively campaign in these swing states? And one thing that -- so with Gary Johnson, I think what you've seen with him is he's really going on this media blitz, and Jill Stein is, as well. It's less clear to me whether Gary Johnson is sort of really campaigning in swing states, but one thing that Jill Stein has said, and she's been pressed on this in interviews, is are you going to -- you know, are you going to sort of stick to more safe states, deep red, deep blue, or are you going to go into swing states.
FORANAnd she sort of -- she said in multiple interviews, I don't think any state is safe and kind of rejected this notion that she should be staying out of swing states. So she's at least sort of indicating that she's going to kind of aggressively pursue voters in swing states.
PAGEBecause there were three states where she got at least one percent of the vote last time, but they were Alaska and Maine, and I don't remember the third one, but there weren't states where I think one percent was going to really matter.
YOUNGYeah, I just wanted to just to add. I really don't think the campaigning by the third party candidates really matters in a disruptive scenario like we're in today. It's really about that alternative. In many ways, protest vote, especially in other countries, as well look across to Latin America and Europe, protest votes are typically non-ideological. And the very fact that there's an option, one or two other options, people might opt for that or choose that.
YOUNGAnd so it's less about them campaigning and the very fact that they're on the ballot that matters.
PAGEYou know, it's interesting you mentioned Latin America and Europe because in some ways this seems like a disruptive year when it comes to politics, the Brexit vote and others. Do you think there is a kind of global trend that we're seeing?
YOUNGYes, definitely, especially in the Western industrialized world. There are sort of dual factors going on. On the one hand, we have economic -- long-term economic dislocation, where we have stagnant wages amongst the working class and the lower-middle class, and that's the case both in the United States as well as Western Europe.
YOUNGBut you have another factor. You have cultural change. You have demographic change going on both in the United States, as well as Europe. In both places we're at historic highs in terms of foreign-born, which has a certain sort of sense of loss among certain subsets of the population. So we have this kind of duality of economic dislocation, malaise, together with cultural change that's really driving these trends in both places.
PAGEHans, do you see this as something that reaches beyond the borders of the United States?
NOELWell, I think Cliff's touched on the two sort of large, global factors. We've got economic change, we've got, you know, migration and cultural change. I think the important thing to remember is that those factors get filtered through the political institutions wherever you are. And so, you know, it matters, I think, that in Britain, for instance, there's a much, much larger white population.
NOELSo here, Trump's got a smaller range of voters that he can appeal to by making non-white voters appear to be the enemy, if that's the way that they're -- it's interpreted, because those voters aren't going to find that appealing, whereas in Great Britain it's a smaller number of people who are going to have that kind of reaction.
PAGELet's go to the phones. Our lines are 1-800-433-8850. Give us a call. We're going to go first to Jim, who is calling us from Wadsworth, Illinois. Jim, thanks so much for joining us.
JIMYes, thank you for the opportunity to get on, and I really feel that this year may be a very interesting one in terms of creating interest in the third parties. And of course the big movements tend to come from the grass roots and work their way up, rather than starting on a presidential level. But anyway, I don't think the interests of a country the size of the United States can possibly be served by a two-party, as Ralph Nader calls it, a duopoly, and of course we've for the most part been prevented from having runoff elections, as well as being stuck with this electoral college system, which are both vehicles that help maintain this monopoly of two parties.
PAGEAnd Jim, Jim, are you, yourself, going to vote third party this year, do you think?
JIMAbsolutely. There's absolutely no doubt about that.
PAGEAnd who are you going to vote for?
JIMWell, I'm debating between Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.
PAGEAnd have you voted third party before?
JIMYes, I have. I'm proud to say, for instance, that I voted for Ross Perot.
PAGEYeah, the last third party candidate who really did well and got into the debates. Let's talk about that just briefly because that's one big goal for -- especially for Gary Johnson, I'm sure also for Jill Stein, to get into the presidential debates, assuming they take place. What's the standard, Clare? What does Gary Johnson need to do to get into those debates?
FORANSo to get into the debates, the candidates would need to cross a threshold of 15 percent, and that's an average of a few polls, and it's set by a commission that runs the debates. And so Johnson has done I think a bit better than Stein in the polls. So if one of the candidates is going to do it, would get that number, that magic number to get into the debates, it would probably be more likely to be Johnson, but I think it's still pretty unlikely that either would make it into the debates.
PAGEAll right, Jim, thanks very much for your call. I'm Susan Page, and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." You can reach us at 1-800-433-8850. Cliff?
YOUNGYeah, in respect to the question, what's interesting if you actually look at public opinion polling on desire for a third option, it's very high. Depending on how you word the question, anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of the population would like to have another choice. It's a very diffuse desire, right, not very specific. Obviously you have institutional barriers to get on the ballot and to get into debates and other sort of initiatives revolving around the elections, but there's a big desire generally for alternative choices.
YOUNGThat coupled with the fact that the party identification over the last 40 years has been fraying, so people are less likely to identify themselves as either Republican or Democrats, and increasingly so, the trend is to identify as independent or other.
PAGESo Hans, what would have to happen for a third party to emerge in the United States as a real alternative and not as a protest vote?
NOELWell, I mean, I think the political science is pretty clear. It's a rich literature, there's a lot of factors, but the number one thing that leads us to have a two party system is our electoral institutions. We have first (unintelligible) voting for the Congress, and we have the electoral college with winner-take-all allocation of electoral college votes. It makes it very, very difficult to survive if you're not going to be coming in first. And if you're not going to come in first, then, you know, there's no real reason to play.
NOELAnd it's not sort of some nefarious effort to prevent third parties. That's just the institution. The way I like to think about it is, you know, when you play tic-tac-toe, everybody knows that if you play tic-tac-toe, the first move is the middle square. There's no bias against the outside squares, there's no outside squares get more -- preventing you from doing what you want to do. Everybody knows that's the right first move. And if you don't do that, you're likely to lose.
NOELWe're not playing tic-tac-toe. In an election, though, all the voters and all the politicians know that the smart move, if you want to win, and you want to effect policy, is to vote for one of the two parties that's most likely to win, that means one of the two largest parties, or to join and run in one of those two parties.
PAGEYeah, it's a tough thing for another party to break out. I don't want to stump you, but tell me the last time, since you're a professor and everything, the last time an alternative party emerged and became one of the major parties.
NOELWell, a little depends on how you want to define one of the -- an alternative party. But essentially the Republican Party comes -- is really the last time that you've had a party that has supplanted one of the two major parties. And what's interesting about that is that there was -- we had much fluidity in parties at that point, in the 1850s.
PAGEAnd when was this?
NOELThe 1850s. This is Lincoln. And they -- they did built the grass roots, as the caller suggested, running for Congress, not just for the presidency. And this is a time when there was a lot more fluidity in the parties, and the electoral system really hadn't -- we hadn't had the country for very long. So we were still figuring out how things sorted out. And yet what really happened is we had a two-party system, the Democrats and the Whigs. The Whigs went away, the Republicans replaced them. So it was that kind of -- you know, sort of a swapping through that. And I could go on at length about what the dynamics there are, but much of that was very similar to what we see now, where instead of getting rid of one of the parties, you see a big change in what the parties stand for.
NOELAnd that's really how you see political change in the United States, not replacing Whigs with Republicans, but replacing the Democrats of the 1940s and 1950s with the Democrats of today.
PAGEAnd of course you see that in both parties now. You see Trump in a way redefining what the Republican Party stands for, and Bernie Sanders made an effort to redefine what the Democratic Party stands for. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, we're going to continue our conversation with Clare Foran, associate editor at the Atlantic, and we're also joined by Hans Noel, an associate professor of government at Georgetown University, and Clifford Young, the president of Ipsos Public Affairs. We're going to take your calls and questions. You can reach us at 1-800-433-8850. Send us an email to email@example.com. We're going to talk about the prospects when we come back of third party candidates this year affecting what the other parties stand for. That would be another way for them to have influence in this election. Stay with us.
PAGEWelcome back. I'm Susan Page of USA Today, sitting in for Diane Rehm. We heard earlier in this hour from the Green Party nominee Jill Stein. We've also asked Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson to join our program. We expect to have him here in the coming weeks. Let's go to the phones and get our -- give our listeners a chance to join our conversation. Let's go to Louisville and talk to Patrick. Patrick, thanks for joining us on "The Diane Rehm Show."
PATRICKThank you for having me. I guess to sum it up, my question is how did we get to this point where it's just a two party. We're here in America where we have all these choices. How did we get into, you know, dare I say a two-party dictatorship?
PAGEYou know, Patrick, we have a professor here on our panel, Hans Noel. And we're gonna turn that question over to him because the fact is the Constitution did not set up a two-party system.
NOELThe Constitution doesn't mention parties at all, as a matter of fact. You know, so as we were mentioning earlier the reason is we have electoral institutions that make it not smart to vote for anything other than the party that's most likely to come in first or second. In most countries that have multiple parties, they have some kind of proportional system where if you come in in third you still get something. Or if you can come in first only in a small part of the country, it still matters because you have a parliamentary system and they go through.
NOELOur institutions make it very difficult to have that. And so as a consequence, voters make -- look at the environment and they say, well, okay, maybe I'd like to vote for a third party, but the smart move for me, if I want to affect the outcome, is to vote for one of these two major parties. And then you end up with a two-party system.
PAGEClare, you -- there are different ways to win when you run. You can win by actually winning the office. You can win by getting in the debates, getting a lot of attention. You can also win by affecting the policy debate. And, of course, the Green Party candidates tend to be very policy-centric. Are there ways in which Gary Johnson, Jill Stein or some other third party candidate is affecting what the major party candidates stand for or what the major parties stand for?
FORANWell, I think at this point it's too early to say that somebody like Jill Stein is having an impact on, you know, Hillary Clinton. But I think, you know, one question that you had asked her in the interview was does she have essentially the same platform as Bernie Sanders. And, you know, she herself said more or less. And there's certainly issues where she's further to the left than Bernie Sanders.
FORANFor example, I was at her -- a rally that she appeared at in Philadelphia. And she called for reparations as -- which is an issue that Bernie Sanders has not supported or did not support during his campaign. But her fundamental issue is essentially sort of this, we have a rigged system. This economy that doesn't work for American people, which was Bernie Sanders' signature issue. Bernie Sanders certainly was able to extract some concessions from the Democrats.
FORANNow that his campaign is over and Jill Stein is positioning herself as sort of the inheritor of his legacy, of his so-called revolution, you know, if she's able to, I think, strike fear into the hearts of the Democrats, that she would actually be able to peel away enough voters. Then perhaps that would have an impact in keeping the pressure on.
PAGEClifford, tell us who is attracted to Jill Stein? What kind of voters are supporting her?
YOUNGThey tend to be more educated. They tend to be slightly younger. They tend to be more liberal or progressive in nature. In some ways, if not a mirror image, they're very similar to Bernie Sanders' base.
PAGEHuh. And who's attracted -- what kind of voters are attracted to Gary Johnson?
YOUNGThey tend to be more educated, but older. They tend to be Republican, but not always. Many times they're not affiliated with a party. And what's really interesting, actually, is that Stein disproportionately takes from Hillary, by a lot. Gary Johnson, he takes more from Trump, but not as much as Jill Stein takes from Hillary Clinton. So his voter base is larger, obviously. Probably three times the size at this point of the electoral cycle. And his vote is much more divided between the two candidates.
PAGEBut it sounds as though the net effect of these more significant than usual third-party candidates is to hurt Hillary Clinton, boost Donald Trump. Is that fair?
YOUNGYeah, slightly. The polling right now suggesting that. I think we're at a very early stage. And once again, I suspect it's much more a function of a protest vote, devoid of the specific person. And we really have to see where we're at in three months.
PAGEHans, what do you think?
NOELI think part of the difficulty of course is we're looking at the polls now. And the campaign's gonna happen. And what we know campaigns tend to do is they remind people of their partisan loyalties. They remind them of what they usually care about in politics. And so that's gonna bring home Republicans to the Republican Party and Democrats to the Democratic Party.
NOELBut given that the Democrats have nominated a pretty mainstream Democrat as their nominee and yet Republicans have nominated somebody that this week a lot of Republican leaders are feeling the need to repudiate, it's gonna make that campaign message more difficult for Republicans. And then that has nothing to do with third parties per se, but then the third party becomes the escape valve for people. And that may actually play more to help -- to hurt Trump, rather than to hurt Clinton.
YOUNGYeah, I just wanted to add to Hans. And he's made some very good points. And so we can think of third-party candidates as potentially being spoilers or protest vote. But as we know in the United States, given the way the system's structured, typically change revolution happens within the party system. So Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were these disruptors. Right?
YOUNGBernie Sanders didn't win, Donald Trump did. Their respective messages are being incorporated into the overall discourse of respected parties. So on the Donald Trump side there's a whole new dimension to the Republican Party. The Republican Party, the typical drivers were small government and social conservatism, for the most part. There's a third one, which is America first nationalism. A very important, highly correlated driver.
YOUNGOn the Bernie Sanders side is was economic and social justice. The system is rigged against the common person. And both those messages, that is not disruptors outside the system, disruptors within the system are being incorporated into the party messages.
PAGEYou know, Clare, I was surprised when -- in our conversation with Jill Stein during this hour, that she would not say it was -- Hillary Clinton would be a better president than Donald Trump. She said they were essentially equivalent evils. And it seems to me if you look at her policy positions, they are in fact closer to Democrats than Republicans.
FORANYeah, I mean, I think -- I'm sure that she's, you know, making the calculation that if she were to say one was better it would be, you know, deemed an endorsement or an unpleasant endorsement. But, yeah, when I spoke with her in Philadelphia, the way she described it to me was that -- and I think she was talking about this during your interview as well, is, you know, she views the neoliberal policies that have been supported by the Clintons.
FORANSo we're talking about, like, deregulation of the financial sector, various other policies as sort of laying the ground work for the rise of what she describes as rightwing fascism of Donald Trump. So she sort of described to me that Clinton and Trump are kind of on this continuum and they're deeply interconnected. And therefore she couldn't say one was worse than the other.
PAGELet's go to South Carolina and talk to Emily. Emily, thank you for holding on.
EMILYThank you for having me. I am a Bernie supporter who, because of the vitriol and hatred I have faced from Hillary supporters, am now gonna vote for Jill Stein. And I wonder if everyone's taking into account how the vitriol coming from the pro-Trump people towards the less supportive Republicans and the pro-Bernie people that are getting it from the very Hillary Democrats, if they're taking that into consideration of how they're driving people to the third party. And my vote's not gonna matter anyhow. I live in a red state. So I might as well vote my conscious and a lot of people feel that way, I think.
PAGESo, Emily, let me ask you, you were supporting Bernie Sanders. What happened with the Hillary Clinton folks that drove you or is driving you to Jill Stein?
EMILYA lot of hatred, a lot of vitriol. A lot of negativity, being told that Bernie supporters and people who are upset that he lost and feel he was treated unfairly are immature, that they're selfish, that they're coming from a point of privilege. I work for the government. If a Republican gets elected I could lose my job. So I'm taking a big risk by not voting for Hillary and voting my conscious instead. But I'm also in a safe place because no matter what I do, because of where I live, Trump's getting my electoral vote.
PAGEYeah, Emily, that's interesting. That's very strategic voting. Right? That's really thinking three steps down the line. Clare, what do you think?
FORANWell, I mean I certainly -- there was certainly a lot of high-profile displays of anger and frustration from unhappy Bernie Sanders' supporters at the convention in Philadelphia. I was there, you know, when, for example, on Tuesday, after Hillary Clinton officially secured the nomination. There was, you know, dozens of Sanders' delegates staged a protest and walked out of the stadium.
FORANAnd it was interesting because I, you know, I sort of ran over there to talk to the delegates and I came across this one woman who looked so distraught and just totally upset and almost like she was going to cry. And the first thing she said to me, actually, was did you see Jill Stein. And I didn't realize, but Jill Stein actually happened to be there, coincidentally, when that walkout was happening and sort of led protestors.
FORANAnd so it was kind of, you know, sort of this emblematic moment of I think certainly there are unhappy supporters of Bernie Sanders, like this caller who are thinking of Jill Stein. But I think that the important thing is to put this into context here, as that, you know, we know Pew Research has indicated that about 90 percent of Bernie Sanders supporters already, you know, anticipate supporting Hillary Clinton in the general.
FORANEven the caller who just called in, you know, indicated that she's, you know, planning on strategically voting. She knows her vote isn't going to sort of matter. So she's going to do a protest vote. So I think although there are unhappy people who are considering Stein, you know, we need to put that into the context of it's sort of a sliver.
PAGESo Emily might have make it -- might be making a different decision if she lived in Ohio, possibly. Can't speak for her.
YOUNGYeah, possibly. Again, campaigns are designed in such a way to energize and reinforce the base over the long term. Right? The campaign -- the Democratic campaign obviously will try to bring Emily on board. It might not be successful. But going back to the empirical evidence, these third-party statements or votes in polls, you know, when you give your answer to a poll, typically don't materialize on Election Day for two reasons.
YOUNGEither Emily doesn't show up to the polls 'cause she's frustrated or when she's in the voting booth she goes, you know what, a vote for Stein is a vote for Trump. And I'm not gonna allow that. That's what typically happens from an empirical perspective.
PAGEYou know, here's an email from A.R. Lorits (sp?), who writes, "As someone who voted for John Anderson in 1980 and truly regretted it later, and someone who admires Ralph Nader, how do third parties get around the fact that splitting the liberal vote this year will put Trump in power? How do you build a viable progressive third party in plutocratic America? What do you think, Hans?
NOELI think the way to build a sort of viable, progressive party in the United States is what Bernie Sanders was doing. And it was largely successful. I mean, the Democratic Party has been moving in that direction even before this cycle. And then Sanders worked within the party. Given that we have such strong incentives to vote for one of the two major parties, the way to make a party be closer to what Nader wants, what Jill Stein wants, what some of the, you know, the caller wanted, what a number of progressive want is to make -- take one of those two existing parties and move it in that direction. And that's what Sanders did.
PAGEHe definitely had an impact on things, especially on the issue of trade, where Hillary Clinton stood and where the party platform stood. In fact, here's an email from Mario, who makes a similar point. He writes, "Does the quick and unexpected rise of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary speak to the possibility of a third and possible fourth party rise in the general? Will we see a Bernie effect," now he's making a slightly different point that could this rise -- could this result in additional parties. But it could result in a kind of takeover of the Democratic Party, Clare.
FORANYeah, I mean, I think even at the convention you saw the influence that Bernie Sanders had on his own supporters in, you know, so that's not -- we're not talking about voting yet. But, you know, during the convention on Monday there was a lot of agitation from Sanders' delegates. There was booing every time Clinton's name was mentioned. The Sanders' campaign reacted by, you know, Sanders himself sent out a message saying, you know, please don't do this, don't protest.
FORANAnd even my interviews that I did informally, you know, with Bernie delegates at the convention, people said, you know, it really -- a lot of them said, you know, hearing that from Bernie Sanders did influence the way I thought about it. And, you know, if he wants me to get in line, if he wants me to support Clinton, if he doesn't want me to boo, that makes a difference to me. So I think that, you know, all that is to just say that Sanders at this point has endorsed Clinton. He's given the speech in support of her. A lot of his delegates didn't necessarily like that, but I also think that a lot of them are going to be taking that into consideration when it comes time to vote.
PAGEYou know, when he sent out that email it did tamp down, I thought, on the protest inside the hall. But even on that last night with Hillary Clinton, you saw the Sanders supporters come in these neon yellow t-shirts…
PAGE…and there was booing, heckling, even during Hillary Clinton's speech. And when you saw those chants of USA, USA, come up, that was to drown out people who were heckling Hillary Clinton. I'm Susan Page and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Yes, Hans?
NOELSo we were just talking about, you know, what's going on in, like, in the protests on the convention floor and the, you know, how to sort of heal the wounds of the primaries. And I think an important thing to remember is that the vast majority of Americans did not participate in the primaries. Right? So it's not like most voters are sitting there saying I supported Sanders, now I have to figure out what to do. Or I didn't back Trump and now I have to figure out what to do.
NOELMost of them didn't take a position at all yet. And then when the campaign starts to heat up and they start paying attention a month from now, the environment will be completely reshaped and Sanders, the person who they might find appealing, will be telling them to vote for Clinton. And they don't have to overcome anything because there'll be a unified message in both parties.
PAGELet's talk to Grace. She's calling us from San Diego. Hi, Grace.
GRACEHi, thank you for having me.
GRACEI just wanted to comment on how I feel the media is kind of missing the story with the interest in third parties. I do appreciate you having the segment. But if you look at the polls, people are voting, you know, there are a good amount of people voting against a candidate and not for a candidate. And if you're watching social media right now, there is a real interest in the third party candidate.
GRACEAnd when you say that, you know, there's little to no chance of Johnson reaching the debates, he's polling at 9 to 13 percent, depending on which polls you're looking at. So, you know, is -- do you feel like there's something in the media that's kind of suppressing the interests of third party -- possible third-party voters?
PAGESo, Grace, let me ask you about yourself. Who are you supporting? I am supporting Gary Johnson.
PAGEAnd does it, like does it make you question your vote when you hear people say, you know, there's no chance he could win, maybe he could get into the debates or, I mean, does that matter to you? Are you gonna support him no matter what?
GRACEIt does not, no.
GRACEI am voting my conscious. I am voting for the candidate that I support. And when I hear, you know, people saying that's a wasted vote. I feel like a wasted vote is voting for anyone other than the person that you support.
PAGEAll right. Grace, thank you so much for your call. What do you think, Cliff?
YOUNGYeah, well, definitely media has an effect. And media is very, very important. And it's a share of mind and share of voice. Right? And definitely in the American system focus is not given to third and fourth party candidates. In other countries actually by law and legislation in multi-party systems, you have to give and allocate in a very systematic and rational way, time on TV and time on radio.
YOUNGSo there's definitely an effect there. That said, the space for third parties, while both candidates are seriously disliked, the two most disliked in history, right, modern history at least of polling, and you have this overall disruptive scenario, there is a chance for third parties to do better, but historically speaking, we're not talking about 20 percent or 30 percent.
YOUNGRoss Perot was actually an outlier. Typically we find it's somewhere between the range of 5 and 10 percent. And that's probably what we'll find again. They'll probably perform better, the third-party candidates, better than the last three cycles where they got a little bit more than 1 percent. But I don't suspect much more than that.
PAGEIt does tell us something though about the unhappiness that Americans feel, many Americans feel toward the options they have in this election.
NOELYeah, I mean, I think it does. And it, you know, we have a system that creates these options and only these options. We also have a system that creates this allusion of participation in the primaries, even though a very small number of people actually do participate. And then once you account for the fact that it's mostly over after the first handful of contests, it's really just a tiny number of people who get to participate and we have this allusion.
PAGEHans Noel, an associate professor of government at Georgetown University, Clare Foran, associate editor at The Atlantic, Clifford Young, president of Ipsos Public Affairs, thank you all so much for being with us this hour.
PAGEI'm Susan Page of USA Today, sitting in for Diane Rehm. She'll be back tomorrow. Thanks for listening.
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