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Historical pockets of support for third party and independent candidates

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?

About Post Author

Austin Cassidy


  1. Jack Shepard 4 Senate Jack Shepard 4 Senate July 14, 2008

    This is a perfect storm brewing.

    If Jack Shepard defeats Norm Coleman it will guarantee the either Ex- Governor Jesse Ventura gets elected or Al Franken because Norm Coleman and his ill-gotten $11,500,000 in Big Business pay offs will not have his name on the Ballot in the General Election in the Minnesota U.S. Senate Race.

    I guarantee that if Ventura enters the race, the Republican will win unless we giving the Republicans some of their own medicine using this Limbaugh Effect crap and having Jesse Ventura and Al Franken telling their supporters to vote and crossover and get revenge on Rush Limbaugh and vote for Jack Shepard to eliminate Norm Coleman.

    So no way will we get 6 more years of Senator Norm “Chicken-Hawk” Coleman to work for the big Corporation and forget about helping the average Minnesota worker or even care to help our struggling Minnesota Economy that would be the best medicine that the Minnesota Economy REALLY needs getting a Non- Norm Coleman U.S. Senator who cares about the Minnesota Workers.

    To learn more about Jack Shepard’s crossover Plan “ Called Dump Norm” visit

    It is how and why to send Norm Coleman back to New York where he can be nearer the Wall Street Big Businesses that he works for and who supports him with millions of dollars of donation which he plans to use to confuse the Minnesota by attacking Al Franken or Jesse Ventura.

    I, Jack Shepard look at Senator. Norm Coleman’s voting record which has never been to help the Minnesota economy, which has never been to help the Minnesota worker and for sue it has never been to save our seniors money when they try to buy their medicine through Medicare just to stay alive.

    On Sept. 9, 2008 vote for Jack Shepard, so Minnesota can send Norm back to New York!!
    And have a Minnesotan to be our next U.S. Senator and Norm Coleman can get his dream job working for Big Oil, or Big Pharm, of Big Banks or any of the other Big Corporation whose bidding he has done the last 6 years in the U. S. Senate.

    He sure has not worked to help the average working class Minnesotan at all.

    VOTE FOR Jack Shepard; the only guy that can remove Senator. Norm Coleman in his own GOP Primary on Sept. 9, 2008 for the sake of giving Minnesota a U.S. Senator from Minnesota and who will work for Minnesotans.

    If Jack Shepard defeats Norm Coleman it will guarantee the either Ex- Governor Jesse Ventura gets elected or Al Franken because Norm Coleman and his ill-gotten $11,500,000 in Big Business pay offs will not have his name on the Ballot in the General Election in the Minnesota U.S. Senate Race.

    Not another 6 years of Senator. Norm Coleman doing the bidding of the BIG CORPORATIONS THAT SUPPORT AND DONATE MILLIONS TO HIM.

  2. cbennett cbennett July 14, 2008

    Don Gorman,Andy Borsa,Calvin Warburton, Finlay Rothhaus were all Libertarian legislators at that time of the Andre Marrou candidacy. Since then only 2 Libertarians have been elected to a state’s legislature.

  3. Trent Hill Trent Hill July 14, 2008

    Arthur Torrey,

    Apparently one of the former NH LP legislators did most of the campaigning for Marou in Dixville Notch. Now if only I could remember his name…

  4. Sean Scallon Sean Scallon July 14, 2008

    Very interesting analysis. My guess is Alaska will be on that list again in 2008 along with Georgia, New Hampshire, Idaho, Utah, Montana, North Dakota and I would put Minnesota on there as well.

  5. Arthur Torrey Arthur Torrey July 14, 2008

    Also worth remembering is the LP victory in Dixville Notch, NH, (Famed for being the first town in the nation to report election results) by Andre Marrou IIRC – allegedly done as a bit of a stunt, but essentially consisted of putting up a few signs, buying everyone in town a subscription to Reason Mag. and making a couple appearances.

    It was an experiment to see what would happen if the LP candidate spent something close to the same $ per vote as the D & R candidates, showed that at least in that case it’s a workable investment.


  6. Trent Hill Trent Hill July 13, 2008

    Paul won more than just Jefferson County,Iowa. He won many counties in many states.

  7. Melty Rox Melty Rox July 13, 2008

    This year Ron Paul won Jefferson County, Iowa.

  8. inDglass inDglass July 13, 2008

    Jim, that’s a good point. These places might be a hotbed for donations to minor party campaigns. Could the same be true for U.S. territories that don’t get electors?

  9. JimDavidson JimDavidson July 13, 2008

    This story is very interesting, and full of meaty details. I like it! The specifics on locations inspires a special campaign tour, well in advance of other political stuff in 2011, to not only round up votes, but campaign contributions from these places.

    Who knows, maybe one or two of them are also good Galt’s Gulch locations.

  10. Gregg Jocoy Gregg Jocoy July 13, 2008

    I think that what this report shows is that wherever there are pockets of substantial support for our candidates you will find an activist, sometimes one you didn’t know existed.

    As an example, in York County, SC 62 voters voted the straight Green Party ticket while 95 were cast for the Libertarian Party and 65 for the Constitution Party. The Green Party is far less well organized than the Libertarians, and I don’t know a single Green activist who cast a straight party ballot. If I found that most of those came from one neighborhood, I would know there was someone walking the street promoting the Green Party unknown to us.

    As another example, in 2000 and 2004 both, we had a higher percentage in Pickens County that most other counties by a long shot and yet no one we know from that area has ever contacted the state or national party.

    Now, if only we could find that person or people…

  11. Deran Deran July 13, 2008

    I think that as Obama turns further to the right, McKinney will gain support among, women, african americans, hispanics and the Left. I don’t hink she will get any ballots in GA; she won’t be on the ballot, so as a write in candidte I wouldn’t expect much.

    I still think Nader and McKinney’s totals are pretty unknowable because of Obama, if he continues to the right, and his believers become increasingly angry at him, then who knows.

    If Barr continues to poll well, I think Nader and McKinney will get more voters; people will be less frightened of McCain winning because of them not voting Democrat. If Barr’s polling drops, I think so will nader and McKinney’s.

    Now that she is the nominee, it will be interesting to see if any of the polling firms include McKinney in their surveys?

  12. Trent Hill Trent Hill July 13, 2008

    Peroutka recieved over 1% in 3-4 counties in Utah in 2004.

  13. Austin Cassidy Austin Cassidy Post author | July 13, 2008

    Very interesting! Thanks for the background info, Richard.

  14. richardwinger richardwinger July 13, 2008

    Linda Jenness did very well in two Arizona counties because elections officials did such a clumsy job of setting up the November 1972 ballot. She qualified as an independent presidential candidate, the first person to have used Arizona’s independent candidate procedures for president. To do that, she had to submit a separate petition for each of her candidates for presidential elector. Pima and Yavapai Counties therefore did not list her or her electors on the page for presidential candidates. Instead they put her separate candidates for elector on another page in the ballot booklet (punchcard style ballot). That page was marked “vote for six” and listed only her 6 independent candidates for presidential elector. So lots of voters shrugged their shoulders and dutifully voted for all six of her electors, even though the same voters had, for the most part, already voted for president on the ballot already.

    The Secretary of State didn’t want to include those votes, but after the SWP threatened to sue, they were included. So she got a huge vote in those two counties. Her vote in the remainder of the state was mediocre, ranging from .02% in Yuma County to .16% in Apache and Greenlee Counties.

    The reason she was the first independent presidential candidate in Arizona history was that before 1971, the number of signatures for a new party was only a few hundred signatures, so everyone always used the new party petition and no one bothered with the more difficult independent petition. But in 1971 the legislature increased the party petition 20-fold. So the SWP used the independent procedure because it was easier at that point.

  15. Mike Theodore Mike Theodore July 13, 2008

    Maybe in southern Illinois. Alan Keyes won a few counties down there.
    I’ve never driven down there since…

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