88

TL;DR: It's a virtual impossibility, but mathematically possible. If Trump won a large majority of Libertarian votes, he could have won key states. Four states are in play. One combination gives him a tie and a possible win in the House. Winning all four gives him a win. The rest are Biden wins. With all races called, Biden has 306 electoral votes, needing ...


74

Because the two main parties absorb emergent third parties Any time any third party starts to get serious traction in the United States, it eventually will find one of the major parties shifting its platform to absorb those voters into its coalition. Unlike most of the other parties in America, the Democrats and the Republicans are both in the business of ...


65

Unfortunately, the answer is probably yes and no. Every state & territory has different rules & procedures governing who can appear on a ballot and how they qualify to be there. Some, if not most, states have "sore loser" laws that prevent a candidate who lost in a primary election from appearing on the ballot as an independent (or presumably the ...


57

Realistically no. The mechanism exists, but given who would ultimately pick the president (described below), even the theoretical possibility is far-fetched for Kanye. Theoretically as in is there a mechanism by which this could happen? Yes. The same is true even if he is not on the ballot anywhere. The mechanism is three things happen: At least one ...


21

The Queen would select anyone who could "command the respect of the house", to be Prime Minister. Anyone who could prove to Her Majesty that they could form a government would be selected as Prime Minister. It is worth noting that "Independent" is not a party and even in a situation where the majority of seats were "Independent" there would still be a "...


17

In addition to the "sore loser" laws mentioned in the other answer, candidate filing deadlines rarely allow a candidate to do this. For example, the deadline for filing to run as an independent in Texas was Dec 9, months before the primary elections started. If Sanders tried to switch now, he wouldn't be able to put his name on the ballot. Some other ...


12

State-level result data from here shows that the top five states by percentage of third-party votes in the 2016 presidential election were Utah, Idaho, Vermont, Alaska, and New Mexico, with 27%, 13.25%, 13.05%, 12.17%, and 11.7% respectively. Below is a map showing the rest of the states - you'll probably have to zoom in to read the labels. @PoloHoleSet ...


11

I'll address part of the issue with something of a frame challenge. It is a common misunderstanding, which you seem to be falling prey to, to think of the Democratic and Republican parties as largely homogeneous monoliths. In fact they are more like coalitions of parties, which can vary widely (especially across geography). For examples: The Democrats ...


10

Here are some reasons for third-party candidacies: Demonstrate that there is a politically viable ideology that neither of the top two parties is close to. For example, "Socialism" during the 1910s, "Libertarianism" and "Constitutionalism" during the 1970s. Focus the mandate of whoever wins the election on particular issue(s). The top two parties are ...


9

Updated Answer It is possible that a vote-siphoning tactic could be an effective one. You're not crazy or misguided here. Your cost estimates are about right, and actually siphoning off 1-2% of voters in a battleground state would absolutely have an election-swinging impact. However, the costs and risks associated with it are certainly enough to scare off ...


9

@Joe's answer gives excellent concrete examples of how a party moves toward 'the center'. For a theoretical explanation, see The Median Voter Theorem and Hotelling's Game. If a platform or policy becomes popular, then it is picked up by one of the two major parties. An example is the Democratic party adoption of cannabis reform. The two major parties also ...


9

Kayne's largest problem is he's not on enough state ballots to reach the necessary 270 electoral votes. 12/50 states means he can't win outright through normal means. Ignoring the Electoral College chaos paths, the other option would be a write-in candidacy. West is pursuing this already On Monday afternoon, West shared the video, which is a little longer ...


8

No, there is nothing in the Constitution that allows the transfer of votes from one candidate to another. However, this year Maine used Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV). Under RCV, voters for Jo Jorgensen or other candidates could have selected Trump or Biden as their second choice; thus transferring their votes. No other states allow RCV for president. Court ...


7

Because independents aren't politically uniform. They don't necessarily have any more in common with each other than they do with members of the major parties. To refer to a voter as 'independent-leaning' is a contradiction – they are declaring that they don't 'lean on' the views of any political group! Your four possible explanations all assume that there ...


7

According to previous elections, this is indeed true. Third-party candidates tend to lose support closer to the election dates. (graph below) Usually, third-party candidates will hold onto their support into late August according to FiveThirtyEight. Why is support for third-party candidates dropping? There are a few reasons for this -- First and foremost, ...


7

The main reason for this difference between the United States and Europe is the election system. In the United States, there is a "winner takes all" system for federal elections. Whoever wins the district/state gets all the seats which represent it. But the countries mentioned in the question have different voting systems. Details differ, but in general ...


7

In many other democracies, where third parties are more common, you tend to get the following sequence: Elections happen. If some party has an outright majority, they take control, nice and easy. But sometimes nobody does. Any change in leadership is a simple majority vote in the chamber. So the parties start negotiating between each other to see if they ...


6

The Anti-Masonic political movement (based upon my knowledge of its history while working with primary sources related to the history of my undergraduate college was founded by people who belonged to it), was afraid of a secret oligarchy by a self-selected elite whose religious proclivities (cryto-Egyptian rituals and ecumenical religious tolerance that ...


6

Besides nudging the public's window of discourse a bit, (i.e. item #1 in Jasper's answer), there's always the rare hope of: A cascade effect. Just as Internet Memes go from one person's late night mirth, to ubiquitous virality, it's possible that a good political orator, (if any exist nowadays), might become a viraly famous wildcard. A public problem ...


6

Even though you do mention the election and the electoral college, your question asks if Kanye West could become president, and not just if he could be elected. So, within the totally theoretical realm, on the movie plot level of likelihood, something like the following could happen: The 2020 election happens with no surprises, perhaps with Kanye getting ...


5

In addition to the answers given here, there is a simple cost/benefit analysis to consider: If you possess the resources required to start a viable large third party, and/or to take one of the existing minor parties and make it mainstream: A very large voter base A deep pool of organizers in all 50 states Significant funding A non-zero number of potential ...


5

A separate reason (somewhat alluded to indirectly in other answers) that is sometimes discussed by political wonks is signalling. A voter initially, early in the electoral season, signals to the world (to the party, the candidates, the society) their dissatisfaction with the status quo and/or the current main two candidates, by supporting a third-party ...


5

One problem is that people don't use it correctly. We have someone on this site who works on voting machines. The results that company was seeing were that people were only approving one candidate rather than picking everyone with whom they agreed more than they disagreed. When that happens, approval voting devolves to first-past-the-post, and obviously ...


5

In Massachusetts (as in many other states) there are two stages to the election, a primary election, in which the parties choose their candidates, and a general election, in which the candidates from the parties compete for the post of Governor. As a registered Republican, you would be able to vote in the Republican Primary and in the General. In the ...


5

What makes you think that they aren't doing this? The Democratic and Republican presidential candidates in 2016 won a bit over 94% of the popular vote between them. The difference between them was about 2% of the popular vote. So either could have won a majority of the popular vote if all the people who voted for someone else voted for them instead. ...


5

In a 2 party system like the US, voting for a fringe candidate in a tight race is essentially handing your least-preferred alternative a free vote. For example, people voting for Ralph Nader in 2000 contributed to getting Bush elected (whether you consider Bush's win good or bad is irrelevant to my argument) especially in swing states like Florida. People ...


4

According to Politico, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Friday 9/16 that the same requirements will be used to evaluate candidate eligibility for the 2nd and 3rd Presidential Debates: "[T]he Board determined that the polling averages called for in the third criterion are as follows: Hillary Clinton (43%), Donald Trump (40.4%), Gary ...


4

American Independent Party nomination of George Wallace Wallace did not expect to win the election – his strategy was to prevent either major party candidate from winning a preliminary majority in the Electoral College. He had his electors pledge to vote not necessarily for him but rather for whomever he directed them to support – his objective was not to ...


4

Complying to the yes or no condition imposed, the answer is NO. There is no rule, or law blocking Bernie Sanders to run for president independently. Bernie Sanders can run for presidency as an independent. Sure, he would not be able to get any votes in states with sore loser laws, or in states where the deadline has passed, which would guarantee he would ...


3

The primary reason this happens in presidential races is the winner takes all system. "The District of Columbia and 48 states have a winner-takes-all rule for the Electoral College. In these States, whichever candidate receives a majority of the popular vote, or a plurality of the popular vote (less than 50 percent but more than any other candidate), takes ...


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