The fact that Nader received a mere 2.74% of the vote gives people a false image of just how big a presence his campaign had at one point. During June of that year, the movement that he had generated among those who were disillusioned by the Democratic Party's descent into Clintonism had him polling at 6%.
But as the election approached, as always happens with third-party campaigns, more voters became focused on helping the major candidate that they preferred most, and his support fell. Though Nader didn't end up swinging the election, the Democratic spin that he had-along with the important goal of stopping Bush in 2004-effectively killed the Greens' hopes for overtaking the Democrats anytime soon.
Several election cycles later, Americans are finally learning the consequences of continuing to support the two-party system. This destructive paradigm has resulted in the two most detested figures in American political history being the nominees of both major parties, and even though 57% of the electorate wants a third choice, in all likelihood they aren't going to see one win this year.
Though factors such as record income inequality and an increasingly independent electorate make it so that a third-party upset in 2020 is dramatically more likely than it was in 2004, the current state of the race indicates that such an event will be somewhat difficult to realize. If Nader had received 5% or more of the vote in 2000, his party would have qualified for federal matching funds and automatic ballot access in the next election cycle, which would have significantly shaken things up. And though the Liberitarian Party's Gary Johnson is set to receive more of the vote share than that, Jill Stein of the Green Party-the only party with the ability to break the grip that banks and corporations have on society-is polling hopelessly far beneath that number.
Or at least, that's what we've been told.
A frequent complaint from insurgent candidates during this election (legitimate or not) has been that the process is rigged against them. This claim has had a lot of basis, particularly in the case of Bernie Sanders, who's campaign would have likely succeeded had it not been for the voter suppression, electoral fraud, and biased coverage from the corporate media that plagued the Democratic primaries. If you suspect that similar things are happening to Jill Stein, your intuition is correct.
First and foremost comes the way Stein has been treated by the mainstream media. As columnist Caitlin Johnstone writes about the attacks Stein has received from corporate news outlets:
The media's response to Stein has been more than simply about a concern that she'll swing the election. The fact that Gary Johnson-who's taking nearly as much of the potential support from Hillary Clinton as Stein is-hasn't endured such a smear campaign further confirms this. The reason for their hostility towards her, as Johnstone continues, seems to be about something deeper.Countless pages of editorial have been spent deriding Jill, Ajamu, and their entitled-white-privileged-but-also-basement-dwelling supporters. How exactly does that work, oh million-dollar media hacks? How can someone be overly entitled, but stuck living in their Mom’s basement, at the same time?
So there’s that. Just look up “Jill Stein anti-vax,” the creation of a neoliberal think-tank, and you will come up with pages and pages of superficial editorial and smear. On that one lie alone, there are thousands upon thousands of deceitful and maliciously manipulative words written on it designed to paint her as anti-vax without any actual evidence. That’s a tricky two-step. Takes a lot of creativity to make up such ornate lies.
They sure do spend a lot of time on us. Anyone who didn’t know better would think we were a threat.
The name of that piece is "Vote For Jill Because She Can Win." While I wouldn't go quite so far as to say that these things are proof Stein in fact has enough unreported support to do so, I do think it's clear that she has more support than it appears.You certainly would not think that we were a footnote protest vote that will amount to less than a percent of the vote.
Of course, they use that line too. We are merely a percent or two in the polls. But their vitriol betrays them.
Their own polls betray them too. When you drill down in the data of a CNN poll, for example, you will find that they have exorcised all millennials, Gen-Xers, minorities, and anyone not living in a southern state, from their sample set.
That’s a whole lot of people they’re not asking anymore. Basically, if you’re not a fifty-plus white person from the south, you don’t get polled. Now, why is that, I wonder? Hmm. They could not be hiding something…could they?
That CNN poll isn't the only one which has underestimated Stein's numbers. Many surveys, such as an August Ipsos-Reuters poll and the five polls that the Commission on Presidential Debates used to determine whether Stein and Johnson could debate, have been biased against likely Green voters, having included problems such as underrepresenting independents and young people. Other suspicious factors in how these polls are conducted, as Nathan Francis reports, have to do with how they tend to make unfair assumptions about the people that are participating in them.
In short, the Real Clear Politics polling average, which currently puts Stein at 2%, is not accurate at all. Ignoring these "push polls" and unscientific surveys, she in fact has far more support than that.One of the biggest factors in Jill Stein overperforming her polling could be in the models these polls use to predict likely voters. Guessing which poll respondents will actually show up on Election Day has always been something of an informed guess for pollsters, and they don’t sound terribly confident this year compared to the past.
“These methods, which have been around for so long, may be losing some of their accuracy because circumstances have changed,” Scott Keeter, a senior survey adviser at Pew Research, told the Atlantic. “Whether there has been a change in our politics in just the last two years that makes all of this less accurate is really impossible to answer at this point.”
And those likely voter models — the ones that are used to show Jill Stein’s low support — are generally weighted to expect fewer young and first-time voters. That happens to make up a large share of the Green Party’s base, so a model that fails to take these voters into account will have Jill Stein underperforming.
Here's some amateur, but reliable enough, polling analysis of mine: 13% of former Bernie Sanders supporters now support Jill Stein. While it's difficult to say exactly how much of the electorate is made up of those in that crowd, seeing as about half of Democrats backed Sanders at one point and he won among independents, it's reasonable to assume that if you were to take all of the Sanders supporters and then calculate how much 13% of them is relative to the rest of the electorate, you will get a number close to or even above 5%.
A more certain demographic to look to to find how much support Stein actually has is young voters. Stein has 16% of the support with voters under 30 (to put that in perspective, if this group made up all of the electorate Stein would qualify for the debates), and since millennials make up 31% of the electorate, we can confidently say that counting young people alone, she has more than 4% of the support.
Stein supporters from those two groups, added to the other supporters that she has, gives her an uncertain, but crucial, amount of support above 5%.
So that's that. We've already succeeded in the first half of our mission to make Jill Stein succeed where Nader's supporters made him fail by getting her 5% or more of the vote. The support she needs to do so is already there, and those who run the corporate media, perhaps suspecting this, are doing everything they can to stop us.
And with thirty days until the election, all that we can do now is spread awareness of this fact so that those Sanders supporters and millennials who want to vote for Stein but feel like doing so would be a waste will vote for who they prefer on November 8. And if they feel like stopping Trump is the most important thing, tell them about how voting third party in most states will have no affect whatsoever on the race's outcome, and how Clinton can afford to lose their vote regardless because she's highly likely to win. Though the wind will be at our backs for a Green Party upset post-2016 even if we don't pull this off, we're going to need every advantage we can get.
Though the odds are stacked against us in this mission, as they were with Bernie Sanders' campaign, do not lose the belief that we can reach 5% until it's November 8 and you see that the election results show we've failed. Until then, it's a game of working and hoping. Because, as John Laurits said about the possibility that third-party voters can stage an upset this year in an article similar to this one, "Sure, it’s 'statistically unlikely' — but so is the fact that life even exists at all and yet here we are."