California ballot trivia

I thought I’d offer a little California presidential ballot trivia before the election recedes too far into our memories (and what memories those will be!).

I have noted before how we had such a strong field of minor-party candidates, based on purely objective criteria (name recognition, prior electoral experience, etc.). The field included two former congressmen (former Republican Bob Barr as the Libertarian candidate and former Democrat Cynthia McKinney as the Green candidate) as well as Ralph Nader (here as the Peace and Freedom Party candidate; in most states he is running as an independent).

I did not realize till a few days before the election that we also have Alan Keyes on the ballot. I don’t know if that makes the field stronger still or not, but Keyes certainly is well known. He has sought the Republican nomination in the past.

Further, this marks the second time Keyes and Obama have faced each other. Keyes was the Republican Party’s late “desperation” candidate drafted to run against Obama in his Senate bid in 2004.

Keyes is the candidate of the American Independent Party in California. Normally, I believe this party nominates the same presidential candidate as the Constitution Party. The Constitution Party’s candidate–who is not on this state’s ballot–is Chuck Baldwin, who earlier had received the endorsement of Ron Paul.

Best of all, Alan Keyes is also invoking Joe the Plumber! (Well, you will have to take my word for it; the reference to JTP is now gone from the site.)

Of course, this field also means that three of the six tickets are headed by an African-American.

And, the results for this “strong” field of third-party/independent candidates:

    Alan Keyes (AI) 30,586 0.3%
    Cynthia McKinney (Grn) 28,431 0.2%
    Bob Barr (Lib) 51,096 0.5%
    Ralph Nader (P&F) 80,993 0.8%

A lot of good their prior electoral experience and/or name recognition did them!

6 thoughts on “California ballot trivia

  1. I think that the phrase “invoking the Plumber” should be preserved for all future faux populist appeals made by desperate candidates.

    And BTW, I had not idea that Keyes actually made it to a ballot anywhere.

  2. The American Independent Party of California split into two factions during the spring and summer. They are currently fighting in court over the party’s ballot line and (presumably) over whatever treasury it might have. The current losers in that fight are affiliated with the national Constitution Party, explaining why its candidate, Chuck Baldwin, was not on the ballot in California. The current winners are affiliated with national America’s Independent Party (which, in spite of the similar name, is a different organization), explaining why their candidate, Alan Keyes, was on the ballot in California.

    On the broader question of why the small party candidates did so poorly, one would have thought that Obama’s overwhelming lead in the polls would have prompted Nader and McKinney supporters to vote their true preferences. I suspect, however, that Obama’s popularity reaches much further into the progressive world than previous Democratic candidates, giving those to the left of the Democratic Party less reason to vote against him. I don’t think he is in fact to the left of center within the Democratic Party, but I do think many progressives have found a source of hope in his candidacy (and victory).

    We’ll see.

  3. My hunch as well is that Obama has deep support within the left-libertarian (‘progressive’) community–the pool from which candidates such as Nader and McKinney would draw. However, I am not sure that the sincere vote for those two would be much bigger than what actually materialized.

    The state’s registration statistics show 0.33% registered with Peace & Freedom (the ballot line Nader had) and 0.68% Green (the party that nominated McKinney). Nader’s vote percentage was 0.8 and McKinney’s was 0.2. In other words, the two left-libertarian parties have 1.01% of the state’s registered voters and their candidates combined for 1.0% of the vote. If nothing else, we can say that these candidates did not appeal to independents and cross-over voters! (Except internally: We can conclude that McKinney was less popular than the party that nominated her, and that’s saying something!) But I do not think we can conclude that many voters who sincerely preferred the sorts of policies articulated by Nader or McKinney voted strategically for Obama instead.

    Speaking only for myself, I gladly would have led a Greens for Obama campaign, if there had been enough potential crossover Greens to make it worthwhile. (No way could I have voted for McKinney, though I might have voted for Nader had Clinton been the Democratic nominee.) I suspended my own Green Party dues-paying membership when it became clear that McKinney would be the nominee. I certainly will rejoin soon.

    By the way, in California Bob Barr got 0.5% and Keyes 0.3%. So Keyes at least can boast about beating McKinney for last place! Keyes did even worse than McKinney at holding on to the party’s vote, as the American Independent Party has 2.14% of the state’s registered voters. I guess that shows the impact of the split Bob refers to (and thanks, Bob, for that information).

    The Libertarian Party has 0.48%, or hardly different from the share of the vote Barr managed.

  4. I’m not surprised by the lack of information on minor parties in the mainstream media. But, as a Canadian, I sometimes find the focus on the two-parties downright eccentric.

    A trivial example of this is the way CNN has reported the results of California’s Eighth District.

    I went here to check on how Cindy Sheehan did, but only found the numbers for Pelosi and her Republican opponent, Walsh. I assumend that Sheehan must have come far behind Walsh since she didn’t even make it “on the board.”

    But I went to the California Secretary of State‘s site to get the full results and found that Sheehan, not Walsh, came in second place with almost twice as many votes as Walsh.

    It’s just a little thing, but it strikes me as bizzare that CNN would report the district’s results this way.

    I looked at a few other major media sites, but couldn’t even find district-by-district results for the House with the exception of NY Times which lists the results in each district for the two main parties and lumps eveything else in the “Other” column.

  5. Yes, Doug, district-by-district results for the US House are very hard to come by. And when you find them, you almost always get only Dem/Rep.

    Eccentric? Maybe. Annoying? Certainly. Willful withholding of information? Yeah.

  6. Substitute “appalling” for “annoying”. MSS, is there another economically advanced country on the planet where two-party domination is as complete as it is in the U.S.? If there is, I presume that it must also have our combination of single-member districts and presidential government.

    Hmmm, I just thought of one possibility: Malta. It has parliamentary government elected by (very mild) PR.

    I suspect that the media are only reflecting what they perceive to be the reality, rather than trying to contribute to reinforcing that reality. If your operating principle is, as I’m so often told, “We have a two party system, so just live with it”, then all the other votes do, indeed, belong in an undifferentiated “other” column.

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