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Forums - Politics Discussion - People's Convention 2020

Bofferbrauer2 said:

And there lies the hen-and-egg problem.

Neither Democrats or Republicans would ever change the system unless forced to, as it would mean they'd loose power to other parties. In other words, you can kiss goodbye the dream of winner-takes-all go away anytime soon - or ever, really.

Since the states choose themselves what system they use to vote in the presidential election, they need to win states (I think governor, or does it need a different post to be able to change state voting laws?) to be able to slowly change the voting laws in the states one by one until the number of states with winner-takes-all is relatively small and don't singlehandedly decide over the outcome in elections. Only then can third parties really attack the presidency.

The problem: They need to run in the next presidency to make themselves both visible to people who don't follow politics closely and for their own credibility. But that doesn't mean they'd have to run in swing states yet to not hand the election to republicans on a silver platter. Or that they even get widespread ballot access in the first place for that matter.

If anything, I think the Democrats would be more likely to push for electoral reform. They have felt the sting of the spoiler effect far more sharply than the Republicans have, especially with presidential elections in the past 20 years. Maine, a blue-leaning state, has recently implemented ranked-choice voting for federal and state elections. Four other states used ranked-choice voting in their Democratic primaries this year. The problem with getting RCV and other reforms implemented nationwide is that they have to get these bills past the Republicans, who are themselves keenly aware of how they've benefited from spoiler candidates in recent years (they also aren't likely to agree to abolish the EC anytime soon, even though most of them didn't like it when Obama was in office, or before Dubya won in 2000). I imagine that over time, we'll see RCV take hold in more and more blue states, possibly in some swing states. It'll be a long, tough fight, but electoral reform is worth the effort. But until we do have some form of RCV, the existence of a sufficiently large left-wing third-party will serve to do nothing besides cost the Democrats elections.



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sc94597 said:
Bofferbrauer2 said:

There is one major difference between the FPTP in Canada and the UK compared to the US: They're local elections while in the US, it's almost always entire states. I would agree with your assessment if the US had their states divided up into voting districts like in Maine for instance, but the way it is, entire states are just too big in weight for most voters to go off the GOP/Dem rails.

But like you said in the other post, if voters can make the choices themselves on how they would like to vote, then getting more equitable voting systems in place should be a real possibility, at least in those states that allow those.

House of Representative elections are not state-wide elections, nor are state-senators and state House of Representative/assembly elections, nor are local elections

Sure the Senate and Presidency are elected state-wide or through a system of fifty one (state + D.C) elections, but they are only two parts of the whole system.

Third parties and independents have won Senate seats in the past too, and two Senate seats are held by independents currently (Vermont - Bernie Sanders, and Maine - Angus King.) 

Sure but that doesn't matter in the US system. One party could technically own 100% of both House and Senate yet not win the presidential election. To make that matter, the presidential election would need to stop being a separate thing from either House of Senate election.

In fact, this could actually be done very easily: There are 538 electoral votes in total. There are 438 Representatives in the House plus 100 Senators in Congress. Just add up both houses by party affiliation and voila: A presidency elected by the result of many local elections, where smaller and regional parties actually have a fighting chance, ending the deadlock between just 2 parties.



Shadow1980 said:

And what has the results been? Outcomes that are unrepresentative, sometimes incredibly so. The actual composition of their Houses of Commons is often way out of line with how people actually voted. Many MPs in recent elections won with less than 40% of the popular vote in their electoral district. As an example of these unrepresentative results, in the 2015 Canadian federal election, the Liberals won an absolute majority of seats with less than 40% of the national popular vote, while in 2019 they came in second and still won the most seats (though not a majority). The NDP had 16% of the vote but only 7% of the seats. In a good number of districts won by the Conservatives, the NDP appears to have served as little more than a spoiler. How many seats would the Liberals and Conservatives have won if it was just the two of them? The Conservatives don't have a rival right-wing party like the Liberals have three rival left-wing parties, and they were able to control the House of Commons for nearly a decade under Stephen Harper while never gaining more than 40% of the national vote.

Additionally, some of those smaller parties in Canada & the UK, like Bloc Quebecois, SNP, and Plaid Cymru, are limited to specific cultural regions that vote overwhelmingly for that party. In the UK, for example, England by itself is closer to a two-party system, with the Conservatives and Labour winning a combined 81.2% of the popular vote and nearly all the seats in Parliament in the last election, with the Lib Dems, Greens, and Brexit Party being incredibly underrepresented in proportion to their vote share, and probably also serving as spoilers in most elections. Aside from Labour, the Conservatives, and the Lib Dems, most of the other parties that hold seats in the British Parliament get the entirety of their representation in Parliament from Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and are, at present, generally over-represented.

Elections in the UK and Canada are a horrible mess because of the existence of more than two major parties. They make our elections look neat and tidy by comparison, and ours are already unrepresentative enough. FPTP rules are not the norm for lower house elections in most of the world, and it's easy to see why.

Also, those nations have a parliamentary system, while the United States has a full presidential system. When we talk about elections in the UK or Canada, we're talking purely about those lower house elections. The executive in parliamentary systems is an unelected but largely ceremonial office, while in the United States the president is elected by the people (albeit indirectly), exists separate from and co-equal to the Congress, and exercises actual power as, unlike in parliamentary systems, full separation of powers is unique to full presidential systems. The upper house is likewise unelected but with less power than the lower house in parliamentary systems, whereas our Senate exists co-equal to the House and its members have been directly elected since 1913. Their legislative process and general rules are different. There is no such thing as a minority government, hung parliament, or snap elections in the U.S. Either a majority of the members of Congress vote in favor of a bill or they do not. If they can't get stuff done at all, well, that may or may not get fixed next election, which will happen on a fixed date every even-numbered year and not a day before or after.

And when it comes to presidential elections, it's not a lot of smaller district-level elections. It's the whole country voting for one person. Whoever wins the most votes in a state wins that state's electoral votes. If the Democratic base was heavily split between two parties, most swing states would effectively become solid blue states. Republicans could win Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and so on. Some states that are more firmly blue could reverse course and end up flipping to the red column as Republican candidates still manage to get 40-45% of the vote. All they would need to win is for that remaining 55-60% to be divided heavily enough. Even if we abolished the Electoral College and replaced it with a direct popular vote, the GOP candidate could still win the election with only 40-45% of the vote if the progressive vote is sufficiently split, and if they get above 45% but not quite 50%, they're almost guaranteed election if a major left-wing third-party consistently manages to nab at least 5-10% of the vote.

Realistically, though this proposed new party would itself never stand a chance of winning the presidency itself, given the ideological makeup of America. While self-identified "liberals" have been growing as a percentage of the population, they are still a minority, with self-identified moderates being a plurality. Not all of them are going to abandon the Democrats, either. Given the typical third-party vote on the left, I would imagine that the Democrats might lose at most about 10-15% of the progressive vote, or approximately 5-7% of their total base. That would never give this new party a chance at capturing the White House for a very long time, though it would be sufficient to cost the Democrats close races. In other words, they'd simply do what third parties have always done in America: serve as a spoiler.

The United States is not Canada. It is not the United Kingdom. We do not operate on the Westminster System. And in our system, third parties have only ever served as a spoiler. But in all of these countries, we need ranked-choice voting and, for lower house elections, proportional representation.

See Also:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9rGX91rq5I

https://www.fairvote.org/anything-but-fair-the-sad-tale-of-the-canadian-election-system

A few things to note: 

1. Canada has universal healthcare in a large part because the CCF (the direct predecessor to the NDP) existed. Read about Tommy Douglas. Your hyperfocus on whether or not the parties get a majority, rather than whether or not the parties represent majority positions is skewed, in my opinion. I can guarantee you that despite most of the elections ending in a mere plurality result, Canadians are better represented in their parliament than Americans are in Congress, and that is because Canadians have more competitive elections. 

2. You don't play a spoiler when you're the second or first most popular party. You can't argue that if the vote is 45% Conservative, 30% NDP, and 25% Liberal that it is the NDP playing spoiler. 

3. The NDP has been very, very, very, very successful at getting the Liberal party to move left. They had roughly the same policies in 2015 because the NDP was the second largest party in 2011. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Canadian_federal_election

4. Regional parties have existed in the U.S too. The Northern vs. Southern Democrats are an obvious example, but you also had examples like the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, which is actually the second party in that state today, yes they were so successful that they replaced the Democrats and now form a coalition with the national democrats in the form of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. 

Presidential elections are not national elections, they are 51 separate state + D.C elections, but it really doesn't matter anyway. A successful third party doesn't need to run a successful presidential campaign to succeed in its goals. There is much more to politics in the United States than presidential politics. State laws, local laws, and who is in Congress matter quite a bit too. There is no reason why there couldn't be coalitions in the U.S congress. The Speaker of the House could easily be voted on by a majority coalition of say 166 Democrats and 66 Populists or whatever other combination.

Last edited by sc94597 - on 22 August 2020

Bofferbrauer2 said:

Sure but that doesn't matter in the US system. One party could technically own 100% of both House and Senate yet not win the presidential election. To make that matter, the presidential election would need to stop being a separate thing from either House of Senate election.

In fact, this could actually be done very easily: There are 538 electoral votes in total. There are 438 Representatives in the House plus 100 Senators in Congress. Just add up both houses by party affiliation and voila: A presidency elected by the result of many local elections, where smaller and regional parties actually have a fighting chance, ending the deadlock between just 2 parties.

It certainly does matter who is in the House of Representatives, especially in your 100% scenario where any presidential veto could be overridden. Presidents aren't autocrats. They need to work with congress to get what they want done. 

And again, state politics and local politics are probably much more important when it comes to most public policy than national politics. Most things that affect an American's day to day life are determined at these levels of political action, including how people vote for president. 



I sup[ort this and I support the primarying ans removing of neocons and neolibs from the democrats and joint that party. Hell if you can do that to the GOP, more power to you. The left and frankly the right which cares for workers needs a multi-pronged approach. Not just doing one thing but many many things all at once and to overwhelm the establishment so they never see it coming. It will also scare them and force them to listen to the people otherwise you can be primaried or you can have your election spoiled by a third party. The Corporatists need to be shaking in their boots and be afraid of losing all their power because they should lose their power. Maybe the DNC won't ignore the left next convention or try to screw over someone like Bernie. I hope though that the democrats and republicans her broken up into nothingness and new parties emerge and new systems for voting instead of the electoral college are established which support multi parties and also money is taken out of politics. Ultimately though I hope Capitalism falls Al around the world and is replaced with a better system for the people because Capitalism sucks



Just a guy who doesn't want to be bored. Also

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sc94597 said:
Bofferbrauer2 said:

Sure but that doesn't matter in the US system. One party could technically own 100% of both House and Senate yet not win the presidential election. To make that matter, the presidential election would need to stop being a separate thing from either House of Senate election.

In fact, this could actually be done very easily: There are 538 electoral votes in total. There are 438 Representatives in the House plus 100 Senators in Congress. Just add up both houses by party affiliation and voila: A presidency elected by the result of many local elections, where smaller and regional parties actually have a fighting chance, ending the deadlock between just 2 parties.

It certainly does matter who is in the House of Representatives, especially in your 100% scenario where any presidential veto could be overridden. Presidents aren't autocrats. They need to work with congress to get what they want done. 

And again, state politics and local politics are probably much more important when it comes to most public policy than national politics. Most things that affect an American's day to day life are determined at these levels of political action, including how people vote for president. 

You missed the point, I just wanted to point out at the disconnect between Congress and the President, which doesn't exist in other countries with FPTP elections, and how those are divided up into local elections instead of statewide like in the US, which makes FPTP in the US so shitty and lopsided for third parties in general.



Bofferbrauer2 said:

You missed the point, I just wanted to point out at the disconnect between Congress and the President, which doesn't exist in other countries with FPTP elections, and how those are divided up into local elections instead of statewide like in the US, which makes FPTP in the US so shitty and lopsided for third parties in general.

I understood your point fine, I just didn't consider it to be a relevant distinction. You missed my point. The nationalization of politics and the tendency to be presidential-centric is a recent phenomenon which could be made contemporary to our period. Historically the saying "All politics is local" held true in the U.S. In that context, where you treat the different elections as essentially separate things, it doesn't matter that the president is separate from Congress, you can still vote third party for a congressperson and then for one of the two main candidates for president. Hell, before state laws abolished it in many states (all except eight, today) there was something call electoral fusion which acted as an incentive for voting third party locally, for HoR, or Senate. 



sc94597 said:
Bofferbrauer2 said:

You missed the point, I just wanted to point out at the disconnect between Congress and the President, which doesn't exist in other countries with FPTP elections, and how those are divided up into local elections instead of statewide like in the US, which makes FPTP in the US so shitty and lopsided for third parties in general.

I understood your point fine, I just didn't consider it to be a relevant distinction. You missed my point. The nationalization of politics and the tendency to be presidential-centric is a recent phenomenon which could be made contemporary to our period. Historically the saying "All politics is local" held true in the U.S. In that context, where you treat the different elections as essentially separate things, it doesn't matter that the president is separate from Congress, you can still vote third party for a congressperson and then for one of the two main candidates for president. Hell, before state laws abolished it in many states (all except eight, today) there was something call electoral fusion which acted as an incentive for voting third party locally, for HoR, or Senate. 

Oh, I got your point, too, don't worry. I just think your thinking of the weight of the presidency in today's politics is way outdated and thus don't valuate the presidency or even governorship enough compared to local elections.



sc94597 said:

A few things to note: 

1. Canada has universal healthcare in a large part because the CCF (the direct predecessor to the NDP) existed. Read about Tommy Douglas. Your hyperfocus on whether or not the parties get a majority, rather than whether or not the parties represent majority positions is skewed, in my opinion. I can guarantee you that despite most of the elections ending in a mere plurality result, Canadians are better represented in their parliament than Americans are in Congress, and that is because Canadians have more competitive elections. 

2. You don't play a spoiler when you're the second or first most popular party. You can't argue that if the vote is 45% Conservative, 30% NDP, and 25% Liberal that it is the NDP playing spoiler. 

3. The NDP has been very, very, very, very successful at getting the Liberal party to move left. They had roughly the same policies in 2015 because the NDP was the second largest party in 2011. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Canadian_federal_election

4. Regional parties have existed in the U.S too. The Northern vs. Southern Democrats are an obvious example, but you also had examples like the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, which is actually the second party in that state today, yes they were so successful that they replaced the Democrats and now form a coalition with the national democrats in the form of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. 

Presidential elections are not national elections, they are 51 separate state + D.C elections, but it really doesn't matter anyway. A successful third party doesn't need to run a successful presidential campaign to succeed in its goals. There is much more to politics in the United States than presidential politics. State laws, local laws, and who is in Congress matter quite a bit too. There is no reason why there couldn't be coalitions in the U.S congress. The Speaker of the House could easily be voted on by a majority coalition of say 166 Democrats and 66 Populists or whatever other combination.

*sigh* Apparently my login cookie expired and I got automatically logged out while composing my reply. I don't feel like typing the whole thing out again and can't remember it verbatim, so I'm gonna try to shorten it a bit. So, to reply to your points one by one:

1. My point wasn't about a party gaining absolute majorities (seriously, just Ctrl+F for "majority" and you'll see that). My point was about the outcome of elections. I don't care about any given party gaining a majority in the House. I do care about the actual representation being as proportional to the vote percentages as possible. FPTP produces results that are often incredibly unrepresentative, especially when there are more than two major parties.

2. Vote splitting is still a thing that exists, even in Canada. The spoiler effect is essentially a subset of vote splitting. And see again this link I provided. I put those links in my post for a reason: to be read/watched.

3. You could argue that various progressive & socialist movements, running candidates like Teddy Roosevelt, Robert La Follette, and Eugene Debs under various third-party banners, have accomplished similar things in America. Those parties never lasted, though. They also predated modern partisan politics as we know them (i.e., "right-wing Republicans, center-to-center-left Democrats). A modern attempt at forming a major left-wing party would only serve to cost the Democrats elections. It seems to me that the goal of such a movement is to basically pressure the Dems with the threat of "Well, maybe if you don't want the Republicans to keep winning, give in to our demands and we'll go away." To me, it's better to continue to try to move the Dems leftward from within, not from without, which is working. Maybe not as fast as we'd like, but it progress is being made.

4. The Southern Democrats were a faction within the Democrats, not a separate party in their own right (aside from the time in 1948 some of them split to run Strom Thurmond against Truman under the "Dixiecrat" banner; after the election they re-merged back into the Democratic Party). Conservative southern Democrats were Democrats. When the national Democratic Party pivoted left on civil rights issues, the conservative southern faction didn't split to form their own party. They just gradually moved over tot the GOP. And they weren't the only faction. The Republicans used to have a liberal faction of "Rockefeller Republicans" primarily in northern states. They were still Republicans. Factions within a party do not a new party make, and while the parties of today are much more homogenized ideologically, this wasn't always the case.

As for the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, they ceased to exist in 1944 when they merged into the Minnesota Democratic Party. The Minnesota DFL Party may have retained the old Farmer-Labor name in their title, but they are officially a state branch/affiliate of the national Democratic Party. For over 70 years, long before partisan politics had reached its current highly-polarized form, there has not been a major state-/regional-level third-party fielding candidates at the national level. In other words, there is no U.S. equivalent of the SNP or BQ.

5. While the presidential election is technically not a single nationwide election, we are still voting for a single person who represents the entire nation, just as governors represent an entire state. That's obviously quite distinct from a deliberative body like Congress. As there can be only one President, there can be only one winner. FPTP rules suck just as much for an election like that as it does for House elections. Most democracies with an executive president don't use FPTP rules (and we're the only one with an Electoral College, for that matter). They use a two-round system, which is a lot better (though I'd still prefer ranked-choice as it obviates the need for a second election).

TL;DR: The entire point I've been trying to make is that our current electoral rules suck, and are not conducive to the existence of third parties. Canada & the UK demonstrate how unrepresentative things can get under FPTP rules, plus we have the experience of spoiler candidates here in the U.S. We need new rules, rules preferably utilizing ranked-choice voting or otherwise getting rid of FPTP.



Shadow1980 said:

*sigh* Apparently my login cookie expired and I got automatically logged out while composing my reply. I don't feel like typing the whole thing out again and can't remember it verbatim, so I'm gonna try to shorten it a bit. So, to reply to your points one by one:

1. My point wasn't about a party gaining absolute majorities (seriously, just Ctrl+F for "majority" and you'll see that). My point was about the outcome of elections. I don't care about any given party gaining a majority in the House. I do care about the actual representation being as proportional to the vote percentages as possible. FPTP produces results that are often incredibly unrepresentative, especially when there are more than two major parties.

2. Vote splitting is still a thing that exists, even in Canada. The spoiler effect is essentially a subset of vote splitting. And see again this link I provided. I put those links in my post for a reason: to be read/watched.

3. You could argue that various progressive & socialist movements, running candidates like Teddy Roosevelt, Robert La Follette, and Eugene Debs under various third-party banners, have accomplished similar things in America. Those parties never lasted, though. They also predated modern partisan politics as we know them (i.e., "right-wing Republicans, center-to-center-left Democrats). A modern attempt at forming a major left-wing party would only serve to cost the Democrats elections. It seems to me that the goal of such a movement is to basically pressure the Dems with the threat of "Well, maybe if you don't want the Republicans to keep winning, give in to our demands and we'll go away." To me, it's better to continue to try to move the Dems leftward from within, not from without, which is working. Maybe not as fast as we'd like, but it progress is being made.

4. The Southern Democrats were a faction within the Democrats, not a separate party in their own right (aside from the time in 1948 some of them split to run Strom Thurmond against Truman under the "Dixiecrat" banner; after the election they re-merged back into the Democratic Party). Conservative southern Democrats were Democrats. When the national Democratic Party pivoted left on civil rights issues, the conservative southern faction didn't split to form their own party. They just gradually moved over tot the GOP. And they weren't the only faction. The Republicans used to have a liberal faction of "Rockefeller Republicans" primarily in northern states. They were still Republicans. Factions within a party do not a new party make, and while the parties of today are much more homogenized ideologically, this wasn't always the case.

As for the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, they ceased to exist in 1944 when they merged into the Minnesota Democratic Party. The Minnesota DFL Party may have retained the old Farmer-Labor name in their title, but they are officially a state branch/affiliate of the national Democratic Party. For over 70 years, long before partisan politics had reached its current highly-polarized form, there has not been a major state-/regional-level third-party fielding candidates at the national level. In other words, there is no U.S. equivalent of the SNP or BQ.

5. While the presidential election is technically not a single nationwide election, we are still voting for a single person who represents the entire nation, just as governors represent an entire state. That's obviously quite distinct from a deliberative body like Congress. As there can be only one President, there can be only one winner. FPTP rules suck just as much for an election like that as it does for House elections. Most democracies with an executive president don't use FPTP rules (and we're the only one with an Electoral College, for that matter). They use a two-round system, which is a lot better (though I'd still prefer ranked-choice as it obviates the need for a second election).

TL;DR: The entire point I've been trying to make is that our current electoral rules suck, and are not conducive to the existence of third parties. Canada & the UK demonstrate how unrepresentative things can get under FPTP rules, plus we have the experience of spoiler candidates here in the U.S. We need new rules, rules preferably utilizing ranked-choice voting or otherwise getting rid of FPTP.

1. Your point was that elections where a party holds or forms a coalition that constitutes a majority happens far less commonly in Canada and the U.K. My point was that while that might be true, the actual policy positions of those parties reflect majority popular opinion more than in the U.S due to the competitiveness of elections. I never disputed that FPTP is a bad electoral system nor that it leads to less representative results than others systems. What I disputed is that it means one shouldn't vote for third parties at all. Particularly in regions where the third party isn't a third party but a first or second party. 

2. Sure, vote splitting is a thing in Canada, but my point was that in the scenario I provided it is the Liberal party that is splitting the vote, not the NDP. For whatever reason in those districts, the NDP syncs better with the population and gets more of the vote than the Liberal party. It is the more competitive party, and therefore if any party should get out of that district (which Canadians have realized and is why they coordinate to make it the case) it is the Liberal Party. Likewise in any district where the Liberal Party is more competitive the NDP should get out of the district. There is no reason why this couldn't happen in the U.S. I already know how this works. I've watched CGP Grey's videos multiple times, I know the difference between different types of proportional systems like party-list vs. STV, I've researched this topic thoroughly. I also know that Duverger's Law breaks down when it the two major parties at the national level aren't the two major parties in a region. 

3. This is probably where we disagree the most. We're already seeing hints that Biden's anemic public option, for example, is going to be ditched. He's backtracked on Medicare For People over 55 (a Clinton policy) to Medicare for People over 60. Pelosi has put her support behind the silver-spooned Kennedy kid for his role as a fundraiser rather than progressive Ed Markey who made sure unemployed people got $600 extra per week during this crisis, in the coming Massachusetts Senate Race. The Democratic Party has consistently been trying to primary the squad, albeit failing, but nevertheless trying. Any progress that is being made in the Democratic Party right now is despite massive efforts to stymie it, hinder it, and slow it down. And honestly with climate change and growing fascist movements borne from capitalism and wealth-inequality there really isn't time to spare. I think it is fine that people are pressuring from within the party, but just as existed in the progressive era and during the Great Depression there has to be pressure outside of it too. The convention last week was filled with Republicans telling other Republicans that the Democratic Party isn't moving left and they don't have to worry. Nobody solidly on the left-wing were invited, AoC was there because Sanders asked her to be there to fulfill the single purpose of nominating him. There needs to be an influential and significant group that tells Democrats that they need to move to the left or stay on the left or otherwise people will choose something else. There also needs to be direct action and a revival of the labor movement, but all of this needs to happen at once. Not any single thing. 

4. The Democrats split (and reunited) multiple times in history, not just in the 1950's, but also in the 1860's (and of course before then as the two-party system was constructed in the 1830's.) Here is the 1860 election map. 

And you missed my point about the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party. It was so successful in its region that it was able to become the dominant party in Minnesota to the point that the local Democratic Party (which became a third party) merged with it, not the other-way around. There is no reason that a concentration of populists couldn't do the same thing today. 

5. I don't disagree that the current election rules suck. I disagree that that means there is no point in voting for third parties (in so much as one does so strategically -- vote for them in districts where Republicans will be the third party, i.e they get <= 30% of the vote on a regular basis.)  

Last edited by sc94597 - on 24 August 2020