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Don’t Waste Your Vote
Mark Erwin | August 10 2004
“Don’t waste your vote!”
That’s the mantra invoked every presidential election cycle by braying jackasses or stampeding pachyderms to persuade more enlightened political animals to hold their nose and stick with them rather than vote for sounder, more principled, and far less corrupted third party candidates.
Their mantra not so subtly implies that:
1) Unless one has a reasonable expectation that one’s most favored candidate can actually win, all votes for said candidate are wasted, and
2) Since Democrats or Republicans have won in that past, it’s reasonable to expect them to just keep on winning, so votes for them are never wasted.
But is this really true?
Not at all! In fact, given the way we elect our presidents, tens of millions of presidential votes cast for the Democrat or Republican candidate each election cycle are totally “wasted” in this sense: they have absolutely no effect on the ultimate outcome of the presidential race.
If you know our Constitution, then you also know why this is so. It’s because our presidents are not elected by popular vote, but by electoral votes awarded by state on a winner-take-all basis.
This means that only those popular votes determinative of the winner of each state’s electoral votes actually affect the outcome of the national presidential race. Obviously, then, popular votes are never wasted if cast either for the overwhelming winner of a statewide race or for both major party candidates in states where the statewide race between them is close enough to tip either way. But popular votes are always wasted when cast for the losing major party candidate in states where the winner wins the statewide race by an overwhelming un-closable margin. This is so because the losing major party candidate is awarded ZERO electoral votes from that state regardless and, in presidential elections, electoral votes, not popular votes, are the only votes that ever really count.
Therefore, in states which are overwhelmingly pro-Republican at the presidential level, every vote cast for the Democrat candidate is a wasted vote. The same is true for every vote cast for the Republican candidate in states which are overwhelmingly pro-Democrat at the presidential level.
For example, in the 2000 presidential race, sixteen states were overwhelmingly pro-Republican – Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. In each of these sixteen states, Bush defeated Gore by a margin of 10% or more. Therefore, in these overwhelmingly pro-Republican states, there was no chance for Democrat Gore to ever win any of these states’ electoral votes. Hence, all the votes cast for Gore in these sixteen states – 7,930,843 in all or 15.55% of the total votes cast for Gore nationwide – were totally wasted votes!
On the opposite side of the major party divide in the 2000 presidential race, nine states or territories were overwhelmingly pro-Democrat – Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. In each of these nine states or territories, Gore beat Bush by a margin of 10% or more. Therefore, in these overwhelmingly pro-Democrat states, there was no chance for Republican Bush to ever win any of these states’ or territories’ electoral votes. Hence, all the votes cast for Bush in these nine states or territories – 5,200,303 in all or 10.31% of the total votes cast for Bush nationwide – were likewise totally wasted votes!
So, because of the way electoral votes are awarded, a grand total of 13,131,146 votes cast for Bush or Gore in 2000 had absolutely no impact on the outcome of that election! That means that 12.46% of all the votes cast in the 2000 presidential race were totally wasted votes! The electoral vote count that decides who our next president will be would have been exactly the same in the end no matter how these thirteen million plus votes were cast.
Do you know what that means? These thirteen million plus wasted major party votes could have been cast for third party candidates instead without affecting in the slightest degree the ultimate outcome of the presidential race!
This fact is especially important for voters who are otherwise inclined to vote third party but don’t for fear that, if they do, the greater of the two major party evils will win. Third-party-leaning left-wingers, if you live in an overwhelmingly pro-Republican state, you can vote for the third party presidential candidate of your choice without risking a victory for the Republicans! Likewise, third-party-leaning right-wingers, if you live in an overwhelmingly pro-Democrat state, you too can vote for the third party candidate of your choice without risking a victory for the Democrats!
If these totally wasted presidential votes for the two major party candidates were cast for third party candidates instead, third party alternatives could be built up and made more politically viable without risking the election of an ultimate major party evil, whomever voters might regard that ultimate evil to be!
For example, had the aforementioned 7,930,843 wasted votes for Gore in 2000 been cast for, say, Ralph Nader instead, Nader’s Green Party would have received 10,813,798 votes or 10.26% of the total votes cast. That would have far exceeded the 5% threshold required to qualify the Green Party for a share of the federal presidential campaign matching funds distributed this election cycle!
Likewise, had the aforementioned 5,200,303 wasted votes for Bush in 2000 been cast for, say, Pat Buchanan instead, Buchanan’s Reform Party would have received 5,649,198 votes or 5.35% of the total votes cast. That would have just exceeded the 5% threshold required to qualify the Reform Party once again for a share of the federal presidential campaign matching funds distributed each election cycle!
So, at a bare minimum, by shifting these otherwise wasted major party votes, two third parties, one on the left and the other on the right, could have been lifted up off the mat and made more viable as political competitors with the two major parties. But there is an even more intriguing possibility: if the anti-globalist, anti-war, pro-Bill-of-Right left and the anti-globalist, anti-war, pro-Bill-of-Rights right could ever put aside their differences on lesser issues and unite behind a single anti-globalist, anti-war, pro-Bill-of-Rights third party ticket, something roughly akin to a hypothetical Nader-Buchanan or Buchanan-Nader ticket in 2000, the wasted votes for Bush and Gore that year combined with all the other third party votes would have given this hypothetical united third party front 17,080,347 total votes or 16.2% of the overall votes cast. That’s within striking distance (less than ten percentage points away) of the 25% threshold needed to attain equal major party status and funding with the Democrats and Republicans!
So, if you’re a third-party-leaning, anti-globalist, anti-war, pro-Bill-of-Rights left-winger in an overwhelmingly Republican state, or a third-party-leaning, anti-globalist, anti-war, pro-Bill-of-Rights right-winger in an overwhelmingly Democrat state, don’t waste your presidential vote by voting for the lesser of two globalist, pro-war, Bill-of-Rights-gutting evils. Instead, help build up for this nation a viable anti-globalist, anti-war, pro-Bill-of-Rights third party alternative at the presidential level. Send a powerful message to both major parties that their current support for globalism, undeclared wars of imperial conquest abroad, and police-state tyranny here at home is simply not acceptable. Vote for the third party candidate of your choice.
Contrary to the false implications of the major parties’ “don’t waste your vote” mantra, voting for your most favored presidential candidate of whatever party is never a waste, but merely voting for the lesser of two major party evils often is, especially in states where the worst evil is likely to win all of that states’ electoral votes regardless. So, in these states especially, don’t waste your vote. Vote third party instead. You have absolutely nothing to lose by doing so, and everything to gain.
You can track your state’s race and plan your presidential voting strategy accordingly at: http://www.electionprojection.com/elections2004.html
Check out Mark’s blog: http://americathebushieful.blogspot.com