Spoiling It for the Rest?
Are third party candidates ruining elections?
Long after the midterms have ended, I have been wondering about a part of the elections that no one really focuses on (unless their party candidate loses). I am talking about the third parties.
I was scrolling through Twitter for reactions and good memes about the results which were being tallied up. I noted some interesting trending sentiments with the tweets I scrolled through. It was easy to tell when a person was going "red" or "blue" they had the same old rhetoric about the other candidate being unqualified or a disaster if they were to be elected. The divide was as obvious as always. Yet there was one thing that most people on both sides had unofficially agreed on about third parties; that they were a waste of a vote.
Many of the Americans that are eligible to vote tend to go either on the Republican side or the Democratic side. Every election the maps are lit up with bright blue and red with a low chance of any other color in sight. In fact, many news outlets don't really report on third party elections or victories. Looking for information on third parties through mainstream news websites or other media is difficult unless it is about how close a race was and the third party taking a chunk of the vote which could have made the difference between the victory for the losing party. Meanwhile, the two major parties will get consistent media coverage. Yet there are still a noticeable number of voters that go with a third party despite the two-side mentality most are used to.
Most of the tweets I saw during that night were akin to what many anti-Trump voters felt during the 2016 election. Republicans and Democrats complaining about third parties taking up votes which could have helped their candidate win. While people were voting third parties would point out the desire to avoid "the lesser of two evils." The 2016 election being one of the best examples of that divide and disappointment (shown by much of other half of the people polled despised the two main candidates that were on the ballot.) That what it essentially gave was the same as voting for Trump by taking away votes from Hillary.
While third party candidates are for the greater part ignored by the average voter and mainstream media, 2016 was an exception with multiple articles done about Jill Scott and Gary Johnson. In fact, third party candidates took a critical chunk of the votes in key states, that some would argue, caused Hillary to lose the election. It is somewhat understandable when you are watching the results to a vital election to your party being counted out in real time.
As you can see from the results the race between both Texas candidates was very close with only a couple thousand votes separating the two at some points during the precincts reporting back. Even in the end Ted Cruz only won by about 200,000 votes.
Most people might argue that the 2016 election was different since it was mainly about trying to get the least awful option out of the two. Yet there were similar feelings in the midterm elections for Texas and Florida. Most people were divided on the issue while viewing the other parties' candidate as the worst of the two main parties.
However, there is something vital that both sides forget during the heat of the election; if there was no third-party option that would not guarantee a vote for your side. Although several third parties focus on one specific issue or topic; parties like the Libertarian party and the Green party cover multiple issues; most of them in ways that the main parties don't. Whether a person's interests are about having a smaller government or valuing the environment over all else, there will be a third party which can cater to that concern.
In fact, in a Gallup poll done a couple of weeks before the elections, over half of Americans believe that a third party is needed. Whether to be a middle ground for voters that don't like the divide between the two parties or would like a party that is more middle of the line like much of Americans tend to be.
Whether you are Democrat, Republican, or somewhere in between; third parties are necessary to US democracy to give a voice to those that don't fit either party or are not happy with either option. If the midterms are any indication, they are more crucial now than ever.