It’s interesting to look back through past election results and see how some third party candidates for President have done really well in small pockets of the country. Either because their message resonated or because they had personal ties to a particular state or county. Whatever the case, it seems that under the right circumstances a large percentage of people in a small area can be convinced to embrace a minor party or independent candidate.
Here are a few past examples…
John Hagelin, who now resides in Fairfield, Iowa, performed exceptionally well in Jefferson County, Iowa as the Natural Law’s candidate. He received 23.94% in 1992, 22.82% in 1996, and 16.31% in 2000. In 2000, Hagelin received over 30 percent of the vote in the precinct that serves northern and eastern Ketchum, Idaho.
In 2000 Ralph Nader polled 10% in Alaska and 17.2% of the vote in Colorado’s San Miguel county. Yet four years later, Nader’s total in San Miguel would fall to 0.77% of the vote and he would poll only about 1.6% in Alaska.
In 1976, Eugene McCarthy’s best showing was also in Colorado’s San Miguel county where he won 7.5%.
In 1992, the only candidate other than Ross Perot to top 1% in any state was Populist candidate Bo Gritz. He captured nearly 4% in Utah, 2% in Idaho, and 1% in Louisiana. In fact, Gritz managed to poll over 10% in several counties in Idaho and Utah.
Similiarly, Pat Buchanan tapped into a pocket of support in North Dakota in 2000. Even though he recieved only 0.43% of the national vote, Buchanan won between 5 and 9.5% of the vote in several North Dakota counties.
Despite polling only about 1% nationally, American Independent Party candidate John Schmitz captured nearly 10% in Idaho and 7.5% in Alaska. In Idaho’s Jefferson County, Schmitz far outpolled George McGovern by winning 27.5% to McGovern’s 18%.
Also in 1972, Linda Jenness of the Socialist Workers Party won 4.75% of the vote in Arizona. Her best showing was 18% in Pima, Arizona.
In 1980, John Anderson surpassed 20% in several counties and Ed Clark won almost 12% of the vote in Alaska.
Even in years when you don’t normally think of strong third party candidates there are examples of pockets of strength.
Consider 1956 when T. Coleman Andrews was the States Rights candidate. His vote total was merely a blip on the national radar, but he captured 6.2% in Virginia. Coleman even won two counties, one in Tennessee and one in Virginia. He best showing was Virginia’s Prince Edward county with 53.6% of the total vote.
The number of examples only grows as you go further back in history.
Where do you think the major pockets of support will be this year? Will Chuck Baldwin do well in Idaho and Utah? Barr and McKinney in Georgia? What about Nader? Keyes? The rest?