Third-party Hail Marys and the Democratic party.
Very entertaining news from Stu Rothenberg:
An unusual number of Democratic candidates running this cycle are basing their victory scenarios on the existence of Independent or third-party candidates in their races. Are their hopes reasonable or are they merely grasping at straws?
They’re merely grasping at straws. To skip ahead a bit:
…more often than not, Independents and third-party candidates see their support evaporate as Election Day approaches, as voters realize that a vote for an also-ran is a wasted vote.
For an example of this, look no further than the 2009 NJ gubernatorial election. If you look at the polls for that election, you’ll see that virtually every scenario that had Jon Corzine ahead relied on double-digit results for the third-party candidate. The Democrats even went to the point of doing robocalls for the third-party candidate, which ended up doing nothing much for Corzine. Third-party support had been declining in NJ for weeks beforehand, precisely in the fashion and the reasons that Stu noted above.
Then again, encouraging third-party candidates is much like endlessly droning on about GOTV when you’re behind in the polls – which is to say, it’s not about winning. It’s about keeping a defeat from turning into a rout. As I noted here, look at the differences between Virginia (where the Democrats gave up a month beforehand) and New Jersey (where they went down swinging): the former was a rout in both the state executive and legislative branches, while the latter meant that the GOP picked up something like one Assembly seat. This is not exactly secret information, of course – the only thing unusual about this is the timing. You generally expect this kind of desperation strategy to not materialize until closer to Election Day.
PS: Below is a list of the 9 of the most worried sitting Democrats right now – and their (official) opponents. Plan accordingly.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.