The Ventura legacy

The University of Minnesota’s Lawrence Jacobs and Eric Ostermeier are out with a paper today (pdf here) that says Jesse Ventura is responsible for strengthening third parties in Minnesota and other states.

Even when not winning, they tipped several elections by drawing voters from one of the major parties. In the 2002 and 2006 gubernatorial campaigns, Independence Party candidates Tim Penny and Peter Hutchinson likely served as king makers by drawing enough votes from Democratic Party candidates to help Republican Tim Pawlenty win by pluralities of 44 percent and 47 percent.

The knock on the third parties, of course, is that they actually helped make the Republican Party stronger.

Ventura, who rode off into the political sunset, is now riding back into the limelight while on a publicity tour for his new book.

  • brian
  • bsimon

    Did the authors consider the 1992 (in particular) and 1996 (included for completeness) presidential elections as well? Some claim that Perot’s involvement tipped the scales in Clinton’s favor, by drawing support from GHW ‘read my lips’ B.

  • Thomas Johnson

    I take issue with the statement that third parties make the republican party stronger. Those who vote for such parties are showing their displeasure with both democrat and republican sides. When their vote is separated out from the whole vote, this serves to reveal which of the major two parties has an actual lead in real support, which is the support of people who agree substancially with what the party wishes to accomplish. In many lands the strongest party rules without a majority. This helps to deconcentrate politcal power. The founding fathers knew this to be a good idea.

  • Bob Collins

    The fact third parties draw support cannot be denied. Neither can the fact that without the third party involved, the Republican Party likely would not have enjoyed the comeback it enjoyed in this decade. That doesn’t make it good. It doesn’t make it bad.

  • brian

    “The founding fathers knew this to be a good idea. ”

    Some of the founding fathers knew it was a good idea. The rest formed two political parties.

    It is my understanding that minority governments tend not to be able to get much done, since they need a majority to pass anything.

    I think that ideally, everything that Thomas said would be true. Unfortunately, it is overwhelmingly likely that a Democrat or a Republican will be elected. Practically, a third party candidate will strengthen which ever party is less like him or her. Recently, that has been the Republicans. Maybe the Republican party has more pragmatists than the Democrats, so conservative third party candidates get less steam?

    I could see how a third party candidate being elected as governor would bolster other third party candidates, since it seems like electability is the major issue holding them many of them back.

  • KenB

    The two-party-dominant system we have in the U.S. is an artifact of our winner-take-all elections. Those elections also give us winners who get a minority of the vote and voters who feel they have to choose between voting for R or D, whichever they perceive as the lesser evil. Neither of these is good for democracy or society.

    If Minnesota adopted Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) for constitutional office elections, we wouldn’t need to speculate about the so-called “spoiler effect” of third party candidates. (See the Instant Runoff Voting Primer for an explanation of IRV.) And voters wouldn’t have to even think about choosing between the lesser of two evils.