Why Trump is more likely to win in the GOP than to lead his supporters to a new third
Supporters of former President Trump gather in front of Trump Tower during a rare visit Trump made to his New York City offices on March 8, 2021. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images Former President Donald Trump a sometimes claimed that he would create a third political party called the Patriot Party. In fact, most Americans – 62% in a recent poll – say they would appreciate the chance to vote for a third. In almost every other democracy, these Americans would get their wish. In the Netherlands, for example, even a small ‘third’ party called the Party for the Animals – made up of animal rights activists, not dogs and cats – won 3.2% of the legislative vote in 2017 and won five seats out of 150 in the national legislature. Yet in the United States, the House candidates of the Libertarian Party, the most successful of America’s small parties, failed to win any House seats in 2020, although Libertarians won over a million votes. votes in the House. Neither the Working Families Party, with 390,000 votes, nor the Legalize Marijuana Now Party, whose US Senate candidate from Minnesota won 185,000 votes. Why don’t American voters have more than two viable parties to choose from in elections when nearly every other democratic nation in the world has them? These voters backed Biden or Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Yet 62% of Americans say they would like the option to vote for a third-party candidate. Mandel Ngan, Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images Rules of Plurality As I have seen in my research on political parties, the American electoral system is the main reason the United States is the only major democracy with only two parties systematically able to elect officials. Votes are counted in most US elections using the rules of plurality, or “winner takes all.” Whoever obtains the most votes wins the single seat in the elections. Other democracies choose to count some or all of their votes differently. Instead of, say, California being divided into 53 United States House Districts, with each district electing a representative, the entire state could become a multi-member district, and all voters in California would be invited to choose. the 53 members of the United States House using proportional representation. . Each party would present a list of its candidates for the 53 seats, and you, as a voter, would choose one of the party lists. If your party got 40% of the vote in the state, then it would elect 40% of the representatives – the first 21 candidates on the party list. This is the system used in 21 of the 28 Western European countries, including Germany and Spain. In such a system – based on the minimum percentage, or threshold, a party must win a seat – it would make sense for even a small party to field candidates for the United States House, believing that if they only got 5% of the votes. , they could win 5% of the seats in the US House. So if the Legalize Marijuana Now party won 5% of the vote in California, two or three of the party’s candidates would become House Members, ready to advocate in Congress for the legalization of marijuana. In fact, until the 1950s, several US states had multi-member districts. Under the current electoral system, however, if the Legalize Marijuana Now party gets 5% of the vote in the State House, it wins nothing. He spent a lot of money and effort without the officials showing it. This drawback for small parties is also built into the Electoral College, where a candidate needs a majority of electoral votes to win the presidency – and no candidate from a major party has ever done so. Parties run the show There is another factor that works against the success of third parties: State legislatures set the rules for how candidates and parties are entered into the ballot, and state legislatures are made up almost exclusively of Republicans and Democrats. They have no desire to increase their competition. Thus, a candidate from a minor party usually needs a lot more signatures on a petition to be put on the ballot than candidates from major parties, and often also pays filing fees that candidates from major parties do not have. necessarily to pay. Furthermore, although many Americans call themselves “independents,” pollsters find that most of these “independents” actually lean toward Democrats or Republicans, and their voting choices are almost as intensely partisan as those who claim a vote. party affiliation. Even though many Americans call themselves “independent,” their voting choices are almost as intensely partisan as those who call themselves Democrats or Republicans. Scott Olson / Getty Images Party identification is the most important determinant of people’s voting choices; in 2020, 94% of Republicans voted for Donald Trump, and the same percentage of Democrats voted for Joe Biden. The small number of true independents in American politics are much less likely to be interested in politics and to vote. So it wouldn’t be easy for a third party to get the Americans to put aside their existing partisan allegiance. Hard to get there from here The idea of a “center” party has great appeal – in theory. In practice, few people agree on what “centrist” means. Many people, when asked this question, envision a “central” party that reflects all of their own views and none of the views they disagree with. This is where a Trump party has an advantage. Potential Trump Party supporters agree on what they stand for: Donald Trump. [The Conversation’s newsletter explains what’s going on with the coronavirus pandemic. Subscribe now.] Still, there is an easier path for Trump supporters than to fight the US electoral system, unfriendly ballot access rules, and well-established party identification. It is to take back the Republican Party. In fact, they’re very close to doing it now. Trump retains a powerful grip on party policies. His advisor, Jason Miller, said: “Trump is indeed the Republican Party.” This Trump Party is very different from Ronald Reagan’s GOP. It’s not surprising; the main American parties have always been permeable and vulnerable to factional takeover. Americans have good reason for wanting more big parties. It is difficult for two parties to grasp the diversity of points of view in a nation of over 300 million people. But US policy would be very different if the country had a viable multi-party system, in which voters could choose from, for example, a socialist party, a white supremacist party, and maybe even a party for the animals. To get there, Congress and state legislatures would have to make fundamental changes to U.S. elections, converting single-member ridings with winner-to-everyone rules to multi-member ridings with proportional representation. site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Marjorie Hershey, Indiana University. Read more: The candidate you like is the one you think is the most eligible What are political party platforms – and do they matter? Marjorie Hershey does not work, consult, own stock, or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has not disclosed any relevant affiliation beyond her academic appointment.