Third-Party Candidate Could Still Tank Both Parties

Ralph Nader says it could happen, and he should know
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2015 1:00 PM CDT
Donald Trump may no longer be a threat to run as a third-party candidate, but that doesn't mean Republicans or Democrats are out of the woods yet.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

(Newser) – Even with Donald Trump caving and signing a Republican loyalty pledge yesterday, both parties still have a lot to fear from potential third-party candidates, the Hill reports. Ralph Nader, himself a third-party candidate in 2000, tells the website that growing dissatisfaction among voters makes it a possibility, as it seems Americans might finally be tired of the status quo. Three GOP candidates rising in the polls of late—Trump, Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson—aren't politicians, and Bernie Sanders—an independent—is polling well on the Democratic side. "You could see someone splitting off," Nader says. "Then you couldn't be accused of the dreaded word: spoiler."

Consider, for example, the candidacy of Deez Nuts—the alias of a 15-year-old farm boy—who was polling well in North Carolina, Iowa, and Minnesota last month. “I would say Mr. Nuts is the most ludicrous and unqualified third-party candidate you could have, but he’s still polling at 7, 8, 9%,’’ professional pollster Tom Jensen told the New York Times last month. “Right now the voters don’t like either of the people leading in the two main parties, and that creates an appetite for a third-party candidate.’’ Political professor Christopher Larimer tells the Hill a third-party candidate taking even 5% from either major candidate could be disastrous for their party. "That can make a huge difference and decide an election," he says.

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