Whither A Third Party?

In the Los Angles Times, Ron Brownstein, via Joe Trippi, speculates on the how the Internet could fuel a future major third-party / independent Presidential run: MoveOn, and groups like it on the left and right, chisel at the power of the major political parties by providing an alternative source of campaign funds and volunteers. But otherwise, the two parties that have defined American political life since the 1850s have been largely immune from the centrifugal current of the Internet era.

Joe Trippi, a principal architect of Howard Dean's breakthrough Internet strategy in the 2004 Democratic presidential campaign, is one of many analysts who believe that may soon change. The Internet, he says, could ignite a serious third-party presidential bid in 2008.

"This is a very disruptive technology," says Trippi. "And it is going to be very destabilizing to the political establishment of both parties."

The Internet could allow an independent candidate to more easily identify an audience and financial base, just as it has allowed blogs like the liberal Daily Kos or conservative InstaPundit to find a community of like-minded readers. More precisely, the Internet has allowed readers to find those blogs. And because the audience mostly finds the product, rather than the other way around, the cost of entering the market is radically reduced.

Trippi believes an independent presidential candidate who struck a chord could organize support through the Internet just as inexpensively. "Somebody could come along and raise $200 million and have 600,000 people on the streets working for them without any party structure in the blink of an eye," he says.

It might not be quite that simple. But the two parties are pursuing strategies that create an opening in the center of the electorate, even as the Internet makes it easier for a new competitor to fill it.

This is clearly based on the transaction cost theories of economist Ronald Coase's, which Everett Elrich used in 2003 to boldly predict that a third-party Presidential candidate will win by 2040. Simply put, the lower the cost of information collection, the smaller the necessary size of an organization. So, since the Internet makes information gathering than any pervious medium, it also makes it possible for a smaller political organization than either the Democratic or Republican parties to collect the necessary information to win the Presidency.

Anyway, that is the theory. There are some other major hurdles to a serious third party challenge, however. First among them is that right now the country isn't exactly too high on third parties, even when compared to recent years. A Pew poll from October 15-19, 2003 shows this trend:

Some people say we should have a third major political party in this country in addition to the Democrats and Republicans. Do you agree or disagree?
	   2003    2000    1998    1996    1994
Agree	    46	   52	  46	 58	53
Disagree     44      42      47      37      43
Even theoretical support for the existence of the major third party drop more than 20% from 1995 to 2003. A second major problem for a third-party candidate is electoral math. A third party candidate would have no conceivable chance to win the Presidency in the House of Representatives, so s/he would need to take 270 electoral votes outright. Even worse for a third party, they would actually have to win a noticeably higher percentage of the popular vote than either a Democrat or a Republican to accomplish this.

Let's assume the best possible scenario for a third party candidate. The Democratic and the Republican candidate are dead even. Further, the third party candidate draws equally from both potential Democratic voters and potential Republican voters. Now, combining the partisan index with the non-partisan index (the tendency of states to support third party candidates), I have developed projected electoral results under four different national popular vote results for the third-party candidate.

Third Party Receives 28.5% nationwide:

Electoral Votes:
D: 280, R: 264, I: 4

Under this scenario, despite coming within only seven points of both the Democratic and the Republican candidate, the third party candidate receives only 4 electoral votes, and the Democratic nominee squeaks out a victory. Why is this the case? Basically, because the states that are most favorable to third party candidates, such as Alaska, are heavily, heavily Republican. It is too much for the third-party candidate to overcome.

Third Party Receives 31.0% nationwide:

Electoral Votes:
D: 249, R: 247, I: 42

It is not until the third party candidate managed to rise to 31% that s/he is able to even throw the election to the House or Representatives. Further, even though s/he only lost the election by 3.5% in the popular vote, both the Democratic and the Republican nominees defeat him or her by more than 200 votes in the Electoral College. This is basically because third-party candidates have no real electoral base. The strongest third party state in the country, Alaska, only tilts in favor of third parties by 9.2 points. The second strongest, Maine, only titls in favor of third parties by 7.6 points. By contrast, 183 electoral votes tilt in favor of Republicans by more than 8.0 points, and 183 electoral votes tilt in favor of Democrats by more than 9.0 points. In other words, the third party base is scattered.

Third Party Receives 33.5% nationwide, winning the popular vote:

Electoral Votes:
R: 234, D: 197, I: 107

Under this scenario, where the third party candidate wins the popular vote, s/he still gets blasted in the Electoral College. Still, enough damage will have been done to probably cause all hell to break loose in the country. Also, observers will not that while most of the strongest third party states are also red states, most of the first states that start to break for the third party candidate are blue states. This is primarily because Democratic safe states tend to have a partisan index of around 9-13, while Republican safe states tend to have a partisan index of around 14-23. Both are safe for the purpose of a close election. Their's are safe generally even in the case of a huge wipeout.

Third Party Receives 36.0% nationwide, winning Electoral College

Electoral Votes:
I: 300, R: 173, D: 65

(Are these maps reminding you of the movie Outbreak yet?) Finally, at 36% nationwide, a 4% victory over both parties, is the third party candidate projected to win the Electoral Vote. Even then, it would be a squeaker, with narrow victories in most of the big states. The Democratic candidate is all but shut out, despite finishing even with the Republican candidate in the popular vote. Notice how almost the entire south stays with the Republican candidate despite this defeat. In fact, the third party candidate would need to win by 10-15% before the south finally starts to crack. Not only is it safe Republican territory, the south is by far the worst region for third parties nationwide. In fact, each of the four Western holdouts would fall to the third party candidate before any other Southern state.

So, even in the best case scenario, a third-party candidate would need to win nationwide by four points in order to win the election. If either Democrats or Republicans were to surge out of their deadlock, that would require an even larger third-party victory. If the third party candidate were to draw more heavily from one party than the other, again they would need to improve on their national popular vote margin.

So yes, while information is becoming cheaper, third parties still face enormous obstacles in terms of electoral math and weakening desire for a third party nationwide. Personally, I think 2040 is an extremely optimistic projection.

Update: In case you were wondering, Alabama just beats out Mississippi as the final state to fall tot he third party candidate. the candidate would need 43.3% of the vote to take MS, and 43.5% to take Alabama. DC finally falls at 52.5% of the vote.

Tags: 3rd Parties (all tags)



Brownstein doesn't get it
There aren't a whole lot of centrist blogs with the ability to raise money. Let's assume Brownstein's nightmare scenario comes true:
Yet if the two parties continue on their current trajectories, the backdrop for the 2008 election could be massive federal budget deficits, gridlock on problems like controlling healthcare costs, furious fights over ethics and poisonous clashes over social issues and Supreme Court appointments. A lackluster economy that's squeezing the middle-class seems a reasonable possibility too.

Lots of problems that neither party addresses. Lots of pissed off voters. So far so good. Here's the very big false assumption in Brownstein's analysis:

How do the so called moderate centrists respond? A dream centrist ticket that couldn't raise a thousand bucks on the internet.

In such an environment, imagine the options available to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) if he doesn't win the 2008 Republican nomination, and former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, now that he's dropped his flirtation with running for mayor of New York. If the two Vietnam veterans joined for an all-maverick independent ticket, they might inspire a gold rush of online support -- and make the two national parties the latest example of the Internet's ability to threaten seemingly impregnable institutions.

Is John McCain going to raise tons of cash from the rightwing blogosphere? Is Bob Kerry going to inspire kossacks or Move On or ACT to raise tons of money and send swarms of volunteers?

Yeah right. The day after never.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-25 01:45PM | 0 recs
John McCain is popular
Though it has nothing to do with the internet, true.

Look, here's the scenerio:

McCain gets his ass handed to him in the Republican primary.  Some wing nut (pick one, there's like ten running-most likely Frist) wins the GOP nom.  McCain, who knows this is his last chance to win the presidency, mounts a third party challenge.

I can see this happen.  John McCain is loyal to the GOP-but he is much more loyal to John McCain.  If the GOP is an obstacle in McCain becoming president, I can see McCain dumping them.

Now, if this happens, all the math gets very screwy.  McCain, if he is the Republican nominee, will probably win all 50 states-he has lots of independent support as well as a not insignificant amount of Democratic crossover support.  In a three-way race, most of the southern states (except the really not-all-that-southern-state of Florida) probably stay with the wingnut GOP canidate.  McCain wins all the mid-atlantic and non-coastal western states.  New England and New York, etc., probably still go for the Democrat.  The question is, how do the non-North East Democratic states go?  Also, things could be screwy.  You could have a Democrat winning Alabama, with the Democrat getting 34% and McCain and the wingnut each getting 33%.  Who knows?  It would be wildly unpredictable.

by Geotpf 2005-04-25 03:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Brownstein doesn't get it
McCain would be a dangerous alternative candidate.

There are alot of people in this country that don't toe the party line and probably aren't to into either the left or right blogosphere.

They haven't been able to "latch onto" a candidate in the last x elections...McCain might invigorate a typically marginalized but still politically aware group.

I don't think he would be a third "party" candidate, but just a third candidate. I mean let's pretend it Bil Frist vs. someone else that is blah. It could break the race wide open...

There is a "battle of the sexes" aspect to third party voting. (for those unfamiliar with this game theory model, dont worry it has nothing to do sexism, its just a coordination dilemna).

If people see McCain, who would be centrist most likely, as a favorite early, one party's voters may shift towards him for strategic reasons. In this scenario, if either parties candidate looks particularly weak, that party could abandon ship, and McCain could win in a lanslide.

Whereas Nader's challenge from the left only stabilized the Democratic party's position as a strategic voting option, a challenge from the center would be potentially very destabilizing.

Would a new party form? Porbably not. But we might be able to throw out the maps above. If voting for own party's candidate starts looking like a "wasted vote" watch out.

by srolle 2005-04-25 03:59PM | 0 recs
Move On is a bigger threat
Brownstein is fixated on the middle. I don't know why Trippi seems to buy into it. If there's going to be a third party challenge, it will come from the same place it always has - either the right or the left.

The only people who are fired up enough and passionate enough to attempt a third party challenge are motivated partisans on both sides of the political spectrum. Move On, DFA and ACT could pool resources with the Greens to make a serious third party challenge.

Maybe the Club for Growth could mount a Perot like challenge from the right. They'd have plenty of money, but corporate America is not likely to buck the political status quo. Club for Growth is locked into the partisan wingnut Republican right flank. Could they team up with the religious right? Not bloody likely.

The major third party threat to the two party system still comes from the partisan left.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-25 02:05PM | 0 recs
No, it is not
Because they want a lefty canidate to win.  A lefty third party canidate (Green, etc.) means the Republicans win. PERIOD.  MoveOn et al are not that stupid.  Remember 2000?  Geez.

Same goes with a right wing third party canidate and Club for Growth.

The only third party canidate that has a chance and does not throw the election to the canidate who's views most closely resemble thier own is one who hates both equally because they are in the middle.

by Geotpf 2005-04-25 03:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Move On is a bigger threat
Move-On would move toward a third party only if theDems nominated a real centrist like Lieberman or Ben Nelson.  If the Republicans either just can't deliver for the fundamentalist base or actively start to move away from them because their agenda polls so badly, there could be a "Christian Republican" Party.  There could be a sort of John Anderson candidate (the centrist option, less conservative than McCain, who is the 4th most conservative Senator), if the GOP goes too far to the fundamentalist base.

But basically, I can't see centrists getting worked up enough to make a party.  More likely, a third party would emerge if one of the parties moves decisively toward the center and the right or left wing forms a third party.

by Mimikatz 2005-04-25 05:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Move On is a bigger threat
False centrist assumption. A left wing candidate has just as much chance to win as Frist or Santorum. The combination of Rush Limbaugh and Al From has convinced people that the U.S. is only capable of being right wing wacko, but never left wing wacko. Bizarre assumption. Under the right conditions, the right/left axis would not apply. Look how many votes Perot got. All a third party candidate has to do is be a little more rational and little less wacko than Perot. Not a high bar for a "left wing" candidate.

Scenario: The GOPers crush McCain in the primary again and nominate Santorum. The DLC Dems continue to manipulate the primary and nominate Biden, who chooses either Bob or John Kerry as V.P.  Frustrated with two rightwing pro-war, pro-corporation tickets, Move On, DFA, ACT and the Greens agree on a "left wing" candidate who runs on the Green party ticket to get access to the ballot in all fifty states.

I wasn't clear enough, but I was suggesting that a combination of "third party type" groups can form an organization almost over-night with all of the essential features of a major political party. Off the top of my head, I am not aware of any critical political party function that a coalition of Move On, DFA, ACT and the Greens could not duplicate.

Everybody, with help from Rush and Al From, always uses "left wing" to summon a caricature of a Michael Moore, Ralph Nader, Sean Penn wacko. With a choice between Biden and Santorum, a "left wing" candidate could very well be a Gen. Zinni/Barbara Boxer peace ticket. Perhaps a Colin Powell/Barbara Boxer ticket. (I don't think the American people will vote for a woman President during a time of war. Just my humble opinion. We will have to get a woman VP first) There are all kinds of "left wing" possibilities that are just as viable as Gore/Lieberman or Santorum/Anybody.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-26 02:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Move On is a bigger threat
"Off the top of my head, I am not aware of any critical political party function that a coalition of Move On, DFA, ACT and the Greens could not duplicate."

This is a coalition, which can be tenuous at best, and is too temporary.  An overnight "organization" is a bit of an oxymoron.  The Republican have a continuous organization.  And that is the key for us as Democrats.

You can't just wake up and start an "organization".  You have to develop and nurture it.

by v2aggie2 2005-04-26 09:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Move On is a bigger threat
Any successful third party candidate would need very high name recognition and funding to be taken seriously.  Past third party candidates that "did well" have included former Presidents (Teddy Roosevelt, Millard Filmore) strictly regional or largely regional candidates, and Ross Perot.

The all-time third party challenge was probably Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 when he was denied the Republican nomination despite winning primaries by the party's establishment.  Teddy, IIRC, pulled 34% and 88 electoral votes.  Taft, the Republican, finished last with something like 8 electoral votes and Wilson won big with around 41%.

I strongly suspect that any third party pulling a third or more of the vote would draw from both parties but not equally.  Sonebody would be crushed.  Lincoln won with over 40% of the vote but practically none from the south and opponents split 3 ways.

The middle is practically disappearing exzcept in political columnists dreams.  Perot may have hit that spot but the media is way right these days making it more difficult even though Bush II restored the conditions (a runaway deficit, sluggish economy, politicians viewed as "liars") that made Perot possible.

A corporate-type "moderate" would run a poor third but might hurt the Republicans a lot more than the Democrats.  The "FDR Amendment" prohibiting a third term would basically exclude former Presidents with a high popularity in most cases (including Teddy Roosevelt under current rules if applied to 1912).

by David Kowalski 2005-04-25 09:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Move On is a bigger threat
How about a Gen. Zinni/Sen. Boxer ticket? With the current political climate a Colin Powell/Sen. Boxer ticket is possible.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-26 03:03AM | 0 recs
cool maps
But while the third party base has been historically scattered, what if a potential third party candidate has both (a) a strong regional base, and (b) an already existing base that currently funcitons within one of the two parties.

The problem is, any strong regional candidate will likely end up like Wallace in '68: winning a few states on a divisive issue, but at the expense of not competing elsewhere. (Think Roy Moore 2008).

But if you could find a candidate to combine the two qualities above, you might have a winner. McCain might be able to do it with his strength in the West, and proven ability to win GOP votes in New England and the Midwest.

If you can take a big bite out of a party while running as an independent, you might be able to pull it off.

by tparty 2005-04-25 03:02PM | 0 recs
Joe Trippi has sex with his modem.
This guy, I don't know.
He's smart, yet his eyes glaze over with wistfulness when speaking of the internet.
I think he's in love.
by Sam Loomis 2005-04-25 04:21PM | 0 recs
Take over the Democratic Party instead
Progressives need to take over the party not create a new one...

Ross Perot  got 19 percent in 1992.

Any Democrat would have won and Clinton did with 43 percent--3 percent less than Dukkakis in 1988.

by aiko 2005-04-25 04:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Take over the Democratic Party instead
Any Democrat is a big statement, though Bush had major problems to the point where he was definitely vulnerable to losing to quite a few people
by v2aggie2 2005-04-25 07:59PM | 0 recs
Pretty much any Democrat.
[Jerry Brown], for example, would have gotten the Democratic vote, the Green vote, and a sizable chunk of the Perot vote.
by craverguy 2005-04-25 08:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Pretty much any Democrat.
I think Jerry Brown is a stretch.

Remember, the Green vote on a good day is 2%, and worse than that in 1992.

And I don't think that Perot voters would have necessarily gone to Brown.  The "Governor Moonbeam" image was still lingering at that point.

Turnout would also be a key; Brown may have not been able to inspire the same level of turnout among Democrats, particularly in the African-American community.

Finally, being a California Democrat has inherent disadvantages similar to those on the East Coast.  Not necessarily fatal, but not helpful either.  This may have helped Bush.

by v2aggie2 2005-04-25 09:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Pretty much any Democrat.
Au contraire, I think he would have gotten outstanding turnout from African-American voters. The reason? He promised during the New York primary that his vice-presidential nominee would be Jesse Jackson.

Also, the "Moonbeam" thing pretty much faded during the campaign and was replaced by this "liberal Savonarola thing he had going on. As a matter of fact, exit polls taken during the primaries showed that Brown's constituency was rank-and-file labor, college-educated liberals, people conflicted between him and Buchanan, and Perot voters.

by craverguy 2005-04-25 09:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Pretty much any Democrat.
But what about about the centrist/swing voters that helped Clinton over the top.

I voted for Brown in the CA Primary in 1992 (not a vote I would ever repeat, I was young and impressionable, I guess, and it was my 1st presidential election to vote in, since I was 21).  Despite this being Brown's home state, Clinton won it fairly easily

Brown was 2nd simply because he bothered to hang around until the end.  Tsongas was defintitely stronger than Brown...he just saw the handwriting on the wall, and dropped out.

I have nothing against Jerry.
He has been a fine mayor of Oakland, from what i know.

But I think Perot and Bush would have finished ahead of him, in retrospect.

And it's one thing to name an African-American VP Candidate.  It's another thing to appeal on a very personal level with African-Americans as Bill does.  It inspires a level of loyalty that a mere VP candidacy cannot come close to matching.

by v2aggie2 2005-04-25 09:43PM | 0 recs
What I find especially interesting
is the electoral coalition of states that give a third party win.


Just look at it. What do you notice?

It consists of blue states plus western states. Incidentally, that's the most realistic electoral map for a significant fairly long term democratic majority. Adopt the reform agenda Chris has been talking about on and off since the election. Adopt that libertarian leaning ethos.

Head west, Democratic Party. Re-align the electorate in a way that it hasn't been re-aligned since Nixon's Southern Strategy. Re-align it with a Western Strategy. And while you're at it, don't forget to live free or die, as the state motto of New Hampshire says.

by demomatt 2005-04-25 04:46PM | 0 recs
Re: What I find especially interesting
Agreed.  The Dems could capture the center with an economic agenda oriented toward libertarian social values (leave me alone and preserve choice rather than help me be good), levelling the playing field for entrepreneurs and small business vis a vis the big corporations, reintroducing fiscal sanity and fair taxation, improving opportunity and finding a way for the feds to assume the costs of major health care expenses while not imposing a big bureaucracy, and preserving open spaces.  It would appeal to the West and enough of the midwest.  
by Mimikatz 2005-04-25 05:45PM | 0 recs
Re: What I find especially interesting
Well put.  In simpler terms, the secret for Dems (or Repubs, for that matter) is to get as many Perot voters as possible.
by Frontier PAC 2005-04-25 09:49PM | 0 recs
The planets would have to line up but
it's not entirely out of the question if one is convinced the Repugs will fall on their own sword. Secondly, if the "peak oilers" are correct, our entire society is in for a rather massive restructuring from top to bottom within a very short period of time, hence creating the crucible from which a third party candidate could emerge victorious.

There are three absolutely crucial elements which form a tripartite sine qua non that could very possibly contribute to a third party candidate overcoming the formidable obstacles created by the electoral college in any given presidential election.

The first is name recognition. Third parties traditionally have never possessed the financial resources of the two corporate sponsored parties; consequently, there's no capital to spare in order to catapult a lesser-known individual no matter how qualified or pure onto the national stage with  more well-known candidates from the two corporate parties. National name recognition within itself would level the playing field somewhat.

The second factor is "likeability," which is not to be confused with "personality." The successful third party candidate would not only have to  overcome both candidates from the corporate parties in this area but would also have to gain the favor of a true majority as opposed to a simple plurality in this category in order to prevail in a presidential election.

The third and final element is durability. By that, I mean a successful third party candidate would probably have to compete in two election cycles and run a complete four year campaign in the interim in order to prevail. This poses a rather daunting task by any standards that would eliminate almost all candidates that would otherwise qualify under the first two rules of eligibility.

Granted this is all pretty basic poli sci 101 material. While there are quite obviously numerous other factors that would greatly contribute to the proper amalgamation for a successful third party bid for the White House, I don't foresee any  third party candidacy ever getting off of the ground without these three elements being in place prior to the starting gun being fired.              

by Seldom Seen Smith 2005-04-25 05:01PM | 0 recs
Trippi and the Internet
I believe that the Internet is very helpful as a tool to carry our message and tighten up our organization.

The problem is, Trippi thinks the Internet IS the message.  It's the same theory that provided the philosophy for a lot of failed dot.coms

Organization and message are what matter.
The Internet is just a tool.

If a 3rd candidate somehow does emerge, it won't be because of the internet.  Remember, the two major parties have the internet, too.

by v2aggie2 2005-04-25 07:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Trippi and the Internet

This is exactly how Trippi fucked up Dean's Campaign.


The failed dot.coms had one thing in common they all neglected to use the basic bricks and mortar business principles in their business. E-business was still just... Business

Trippi neglected to use basic political campaign principles in Dean's campaign... Trippi became blinded by the bat which masked the basic flaws of the campaign... ferpete'ssake Trippi based winning on Iowa then he stayed in Vermont... go figure. Dean went to every county in Iowa, yet Trippi did not reign in the Iowa Dem party machine (ALTHOUGH KERRY DID WITH NO MONEY AND RUNNING MORE THAN 10pts BEHIND DEAN), Trippi did not counteract the Kerry electability meme, nor did he think to have a consession speech ready for Dean (from the CNN's True Believers it was clear that Trippi knew that Dean was losing... he did not prepare a next step... just his exit). All of these basic campaign tactics have nothing at all to do with the Internet

The Dot.coms and the Internet

Historically, there is always a bump in investment with the advent of better technology. The stock market has seen it's greatest increases in closely aligned to advancements in technology. Switching from using  men stationed a few miles apart waving colored flags between Philadelphia and New York to the invention of the ticker tape saw a phenominal increase in investment on wall street. This corralation of substanstial market volume increases. The latestst ahs been the x-fold increase to access to the market using the internet.

Vast amounts of easily accessible funds flowing into the stock market with the simultaneous birth of dot.coms skewed the real driving force...


That's it ... yes, it is a revolution ... but no magic here ...

This is what really touched off the boom. Now all of a sudden a housewife in Peoria could buy stocks from her kitchen table in demoninations less than 100 dollars.

The parallels to the Dean Campaign?

All of a sudden, that same housewife in Peoria could get realtime information about Dean, blog with his staff at head quarters and send in a donation of 25 dollars...all with out going to the bank or post office.

The same mistakes

Trippi and the Busted Dot.coms all became blinded by the tsunami of money inundating them that they MISTAKENLY thought they had entered into the Twilight Zone where old rules no longer applied ... whereas they actually were in the same place and the same old rules for bricks and mortar businesses and political campaigns still applied but they just had a new and improved tool for collecting money and getting information out... that's it

by Parker 2005-04-26 02:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Trippi and the Internet
The internet cannot replace the political parties, but it can help an organization perform many of the functions of a political party without the same brick and mortar infrastructure.

I am not aware of a single critical party function that a coalition of Move On, DFA, ACT and the Green party could not duplicate almost overnight.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-26 03:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Trippi and the Internet
Agreed...but based on the same principles.

The dot.comers threw out basic BUSINESS principles like ... income vs expense. At one point they were being handed money by investors WITHOUT even writing up a business plan or a cash flow analyis... because the money was flowing they did not think it was neccessary... just like Mr. Trippi whothought basic campaign principles no longer applied because he could put up a bat and get 5 million dollars in in a week (which he did).

by Parker 2005-04-26 03:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Trippi and the Internet
Tools may change (more effective, easier access) but the principles remain the same whether it is bricks and mortar or virtual/mousepads or shoe leather
by Parker 2005-04-26 03:22AM | 0 recs
Depends on the meaning of "Centrist"
The focus in the piece and in the comments on "centrist" in the conventional political sense, exemplified by the immediate focus on the inside-the-beltway, sitting Senator, John McCain (or Ben Nelson, Bob Kerrey, Lieberman) misses the "outside the box" predicate of a transforming third-party/independent challenge. Policy positions aside, such a candidacy would have to have radical transformation of the political order as its foundation -- hardly the political positioning one could expect that crowd to assume.

The centrist packaging/positioning of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the outsider, 'I can't be bought and sold,' clean up the mess candidate (not how he's actually governed) shows it is entirely plausible that a charismatic outsider in that vein could catch fire nationally, completely disrupting the models upon which Chris based his analysis. The dearth of blogs extolling Russert/Broder-like on the virtues of the mushy, fence-straddling Joementum centrist middle is entirely irrelevant to the potential for an outsider to lead a populist insurrection against the existing political order.

Internet communications have reduced the organizational and financial barriers to entry for a charismatic outsider.  Finding the suitable charismatic person the lead the charge, however, is another matter...

by Steve in Sacto 2005-04-25 11:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Depends on the meaning of "Centrist"
Alex Urevick might suggest that General Zinni fits the bill. I'm not sure Colin Powell wouldn't finally step forward under the right circumstances.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-26 03:09AM | 0 recs
The Democratic Party Is a Center-Left Coalition
What the maps show is that a centrist political third party is as dangerous to the Democrats as a leftist third party like Nader or the Greens.

The question then becomes, how do we foster the formation of a religious wingnut extremist party who thinks that Bush is soft on morality combined with a Libertarian Party with its head not entirely up its ass that mainly draws anti-government loons?  If we can get these two things to happen, drawing votes away from the Republicans, it will be sanity in America once again.  Roy Moore in '08 anybody?

by Anthony de Jesus 2005-04-25 11:10PM | 0 recs
I will say
that if somehow McCain gets the Republician nomination, it will be a long few years for the left leaning blogosphere, as in my opinion he would win at least 35-40 states.
by ben114 2005-04-26 02:31AM | 0 recs
The maps are interesting, but they assume a sort of centrist candidate with no specific characteristics.  All you have to do is add one specific to change the maps completely.  

For instance - what if the 3rd party candidate is a Latino from a big state?  Then all of a sudden, places like NY, CA, AZ, FL, and TX become easier to swing with 1/3 of the vote.

This will only become more true, as the growth of the latino population in the U.S. continues to outstrip other groups.

You can play this game all day long - but until you have an actual candidate, then it's kind of just playing charades with the maps.

by brooklyngreenie 2005-04-26 08:36AM | 0 recs
A third party or deeply reformed Democratic Party
Unloading Bush and his pack of thieves" and murderers is obviously desirable, but to march under the banner of ABB once more and to reward the Democratic party in 2006 and 2008 with the prize of national power again, for doing precious little, is obtuse thinking, and eventually counterproductive. The country is in ferment today as a result of the nakedness of class rule evidenced by an arrogant wing of the bourgeoisie represented by its neocon adventurist mafia. But the problem is not so much Bush (or Reagan in his time, for that matter) but the underlying system that continually puts forth such POSs as legitimate national leaders. Anyone serious about social change in America and the world has a dual task in his/her hands: they got to get rid of Bush and his cabal, burying the GOP for a long time if not for good, AND they have to get rid of the Democratic Party as presently constituted.
  As recent years have irrefutably shown, the leadership of the Dems is abominable. Except for a handful of honest people like Dennis Kucinich, this is a party completely dominated by the same immoral, opportunistic corporate-sucking upper-middle-class and upper-class careerists you see in more extreme form in the Republican ranks. The DLC is loath to accept the concept of "class war" in its tactics and strategies, thereby leaving the masses ideologically disarmed, although the American upper class has been waging furious and self-conscious class war on the rest of the nation for generations, and the DLC knows it. The Dems' attitude is not accidental. They're just in charge of performing the "good cop" routine in the farce we call in America the glorious "two-party system" which, as any semi-awake political observer can tell, isn't. Let's get this clear once and for all: the US can't afford to go on with a party representing just one class, the corporate plutocracy.
  This "two-party" system farce has to be liquidated, and the sooner the better. Liberals, of course, as extremists of the center that they are, will put up a fight against any real reshuffling of that party since these are folks who think it is not the system itself but just rotten individuals who cause the trouble. Let'em think anything they want. Without a radical restructuring of the American party system, beginning with a complete overhaul of the Democratic Party or its replacement by a different, far less corrupt formation, America--and the world--will go on implementing the corporate agenda. And one more thing: Doesn't the spectable of the resurrected Bill Clinton, flying shamelessly all over the place on goodie-two-shoes missions on the coattails of the Bushcorp machine, transparently planning his political comeback, or blowing his own trumpet with his "Global Summiy" initiative full of worthies, beginning with Paul Wolfowitz...make you sick? If these displays of open opportunism don't make you ill, or tell you what kind of leadership the Clintons are all about you'll never see it. As they say in wiser lands, "we're being awfully grateful for small favors." The Clintons and their ilk look good in their maneuvers only because the country has slid so much to the right that even center right positions look desirable. But don't be fooled: they cannot solve the crisis. They are not the cure: they're the disease.
by punto777 2005-09-19 02:21PM | 0 recs


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