Signal Intelligence About The LP

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Past Performance Is No Guarantee Of Future Results

... but it’s as close as we can get until Intrade has more granularity and liquidity in its prediction markets for third-party results. Intrade is giving Libertarian Bob Barr a 28% chance of winning more than 1% of the vote, but only an 8% chance of winning more than 2%. Its numbers for Nader are nearly the same, and it doesn’t track other third-party candidates. Here are third-party results for the last two elections.

2000 – 105M 2004 – 122M
Ralph Nader 2.7% – 2,882,955
0.38% – 465,650
0.10% – 119,859
0.4% – 384,431 0.32% – 397,265
Reform (Buchanan)
0.4% – 448,895
0.1% – 98,020 0.12% – 143,630

I hesitate to predict third-party results without a theory that can explain Nader’s wildly-swinging fortunes. I suspect his 2004 result was hurt badly by the perception that he cost Gore the election in 2000. This seemed to be a stunning confirmation of the strength of the wasted-vote argument, because in 2004 there should have been at least 3.8M third-party-qualified presumably-antiwar votes available in opposition to Bush and Kerry’s policy of continuing the Iraq war. Instead, at most 1.1M of those voters pulled the lever for antiwar candidates in 2004.

There seems to be heavy inertia in the Libertarian vote, but I expect Barr’s media exposure and mainstream credibility to double the traditional LP percentage. I’m guessing: Nader 1.5%, McKinney 0.3%, Barr 0.7%, Baldwin 0.15%. With a turnout of about 140M, that would put Barr at the million-vote mark—more than Ed Clark’s high water mark of 921K in 1980, but not very close to Clark’s 1.1%.

In my own race today, I expect the outcome to be very close to 2006, which went Eshoo 71%, GOP 25%, Holtz 2.3%, Brouillet 2.2%.  I expect to increase my margin of victory over the 9/11 truther Brouillet, since now her Green party has only a 60% registration advantage in our district (1.0% vs 0.6%), compared to 100% in 2006.  I'll be happy with 3.0%, and disappointed with less than 2.5%.

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