Third-Party Challenge: Don't Even Bother


The political commentators and crystal-ball gazers are already predicting there will most likely be a third-party candidate for president next year. They may be right.

However, it is unlikely that the candidate challenging the two major party nominees will be even marginally successful. The track record, except for spoilers, is a dismal one.

The name of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Democrat turned Republican, is often mentioned. He is popular at home, with views defying instant labels.

Of course, there is Ralph Nader, who still denies he cost Al Gore the presidency in 2000, thus giving us two terms of George W. Bush. Nader's runaway ego may cause him to run still another ego-laced campaign.

Nader lacked a single electoral vote, but his 90,000-plus popular votes in Florida were more than enough to give the state to Bush. You can forget Tennessee and West Virginia going Republican over the gun control issue if Florida hadn't been the decider.

Now Bush says he is the almighty decider.

Third-party appeal is limited.

In 1968, George Wallace's racist campaign was a factor in the Nixon-Humphrey race but not enough to throw it into the House of Representatives. Nixon would have had to pay homage to Wallace if Nixon hadn't gone over the 270 electoral vote count.

John Anderson, a moderate Republican from Illinois, ran in 1980. But he received no electoral votes, and Ronald Reagan won in a landslide anyway.

Ross Perot could have been a major player in 1992 with his on-again, off-again, on-again bid but for his strange characteristics.

His 19 percent of the popular vote failed to carry a single state. The George H. W. Bush campaign argued that Perot may have tilted the campaign to Bill Clinton, but the evidence isn't overwhelming.

Perot made another run in 1996, but voters were tired of his rather zany approach to politics.

Then we have America's crank, Mr. Nader, who did give us George W. and a succession of scandals and a never-ending war.

While some might agree that Mayor Bloomberg looks better now than the likely nominees of the major parties, I'd bet he doesn't do it.

That leaves Nader, and who knows about him?