Third-party Candidates in Wisconsin Can Make a Difference


 Joe Murray  |    September 21, 2020
Third Party Candidates

High profile, third-party candidates can seriously influence top-of-the-ticket elections in Wisconsin. While third-party candidates never win, they can and sometimes swing statewide elections for Democrats or Republicans. That‚Äôs why Democrats did everything they could legally do to block rapper Kanye West from appearing on the presidential ballot in Wisconsin as an independent candidate on ‚ÄúThe Birthday Party‚ÄĚ ticket.

Democrats were rightfully concerned that a West candidacy could siphon votes from Democrat Joe Biden. In Wisconsin and several other important states, Republican operatives assisted the West campaign to qualify the rapper for the November ballot for this reason. ‚ÄúThe successful effort in battleground states Wisconsin and Ohio in particular raised red flags for Democrats,‚ÄĚ said Associated Press political reporter Will Weissert, ‚Äúwho are braced for a close race and anxious about any third-party candidate drawing voters.‚ÄĚ

There are three good reasons that both parties ‚ÄĒ specifically Democrats in this case ‚ÄĒ be concerned about credible third-party candidates in Wisconsin:

  • As a swing state, Wisconsin has a long history of close statewide elections. In fact, 10 Wisconsin statewide elections over the last 20 years were nail-bitingly close. These 10 elections included presidential, gubernatorial, attorney general and state Supreme Court elections.
  • Three of the past five presidential elections over these 20 years in Wisconsin were determined by less than one percentage point.
  • Of the 10 close elections, six were influenced one way or the other by third-party candidates.¬†

To understand why Democrats attempted to remove West from the November ballot in Wisconsin, these past elections illustrate the significance of third-party candidates in an election.

These six elections were all influenced by credible third-party candidates and highlight why Democrats are insistent in keeping West off the ballot in Wisconsin and why some Republicans are interested in getting him on. Politics are not always pretty to watch, but the underlying reasons for these efforts is clear when taking a close look at the numbers.

Wisconsin is a state where a credible third-party candidate can make a difference.

Stay tuned!

Joe Murray is Director of Political and Governmental Affairs for the WRA. 

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