The Stein Effect
Green Party primary candidate Jill Stein has called for inclusive debates and to have her name on the ballot this election cycle. If this were any other election year, you probably wouldn’t have even heard about this, but this is not like any other election year.
Stein has a legitimate chance at upsetting the election even more so because of Americans growing discontent with the two-party system.
According to multiple polls from multiple different sources, Americans are not satisfied with Trump or Clinton—not to mention the many #DumpTrump and #NeverHilary hashtags.
One poll by the Associated Press and the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center identifies seventy percent of Americans being frustrated with this year’s presidential election, while 55 percent feel helpless and a similar percentage are angry (NORC).
Jill Stein knows this and is using it to her advantage. Americans must be paying attention since Stein is up 3% points since May, officially granting her 5% of the polls nationwide, which is exactly the number she needs to get her name on the ballot.
“With a tiny fraction of the money and free media attention available to Clinton and Trump, we’ve earned the support of millions of Americans and we’re growing fast,” said Stein
There is no doubt Jill Stein already possesses substantial influence in the outcome of the presidential election. This is because of something known as the spoiler effect. The spoiler effect, most infamously taking place in 1992 with Ralph Nader, is the idea that third-party candidates take votes away from the mainstream candidate on their respective side of the political spectrum resulting in a win for the opposition.
As it pertains to this election, Jill Stein’s platform most closely resembles Bernie Sanders’. She even acknowledged these similarities herself. Even with current polls indicating Hilary Clinton with a near 4 points lead over Donald Trump, according to The Huffington Pollster 17 percent of voters have not yet decided who they will vote for or are voting for a third-party candidate.
According to these numbers, there would be enough swing for Donald Trump to win via the spoiler effect. And considering the number of disgruntled Sanders supporters this idea might not be far-fetched.
Bernie Sanders recognized this spoiler effect could occur back in July of 2015 when he spoke at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. When Sanders was asked if he would run on a third-party ticket if he failed to win the Democratic nomination he had this to say”
“If it happens that I do not win that process, would I run outside of the system? No, I made the promise that I would not, and I’ll keep that promise. And let me add to that: And the reason for that is I do not want to be responsible for electing some right-wing Republican to be president of the United States of America.”
This of course, won’t stop Jill Stein from running. But the fact is, candidates should not fear running in a third-party because it will more easily hand the election to the opposition.
The purpose of a third-party is to provide more options to citizens but third-party and alternative candidates have been purposefully banned from presidential debates and often are not given media attention or an equal stage (as the Republicans and Democrats) to showcase their platforms.
Keep in mind this is a discussion of a presidential election. With the spoiler effect, super delegates, unnecessary and complicated voter restrictions and registration, the purposeful action to exclude third parties, and the recent controversy surrounding votes being lost, miscounted or manipulated, the result is a major chokehold on democracy. And if democratic process isn’t the force driving presidential elections, then what is?
Huffington Post: Does a Third-Party Candidate Have a Real Chance at Winning?