US presidential election: can the “small” candidates play the spoilsport?

Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden. Republicans versus Democrats. As with previous polls, the US presidential election this year again looks like a duel. This is not, however, for lack of candidates on the starting line. In addition to the outgoing president and the former vice-president, they are in reality about thirty to solicit the votes of the Americans by running in at least one state.

The seriousness of the approach varies from one ticket to another. Few of the alternative candidates even appear on the ballots of enough states to hope to secure the 270 voters needed to be elected president. For others, this threshold will remain unattainable. Even the most famous of these alternative candidates, Kanye West, will only see his name inscribed in a dozen states, such as Idaho or Arkansas. Elsewhere, for example in Maryland or New Hampshire, voters will have to write the rapper’s name to give him their vote.

The two most credible candidacies are on one side by libertarian Jo Jorgensen and on the other by Howie Hawkins, the co-founder of the Green Party. The first is not his first presidential attempt. Candidate for the vice-presidency in 1996, already for the Libertarian Party, she had obtained only 0.5% of the vote. Born in Illinois, in Libertyville – it cannot be invented – Jorgensen, 63, perfectly embodies the values ​​of this political current making freedom the paramount value, whether it is economically or on social issues.

Twenty-four elections, no victory

In favor of a reduction in federal state spending, it is fiercely opposed to any military intervention and wants a total withdrawal of American troops present abroad. Advocating for an end to the war on drugs, Jo Jorgensen believes that the restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and the aid given to avoid the bankruptcy of companies are “the biggest attack on freedoms that I have seen of. my life “.

Howie Hawkins is leading his first presidential campaign. This does not mean that he is not used to the elections. This sixty-year-old native of Syracuse, in the State of New York, is however experienced in the exercise: he has already presented himself about twenty times without ever being elected. A former Marine and UPS employee, Hawkins is notably in favor of a “Green New Deal” and an increase in the minimum hourly wage to $ 20.

How far can these two candidates really reshuffle the cards? In recent decades, third-party candidates have marched on the beds of headliners, sometimes to the point of tilting the result. Ross Perot’s good score in 1992 (nearly 19%) is probably not for nothing in the defeat of George H. Bush against Bill Clinton, elected without obtaining a majority of the votes. Candidate for the Green Party in 2000 having obtained 2.7% of the vote, Ralph Nader was for his part accused of having allowed the election of George W. Bush against Al Gore.

Hawkins is not “a saboteur”

To believe the opinion polls aggregated by RealClearPolitics, the impact of Jorgensen and Hawkins should not be a game-changer. Jorgensen is only credited with 2% of voting intentions and Hawkins tops out at 1% when Trump goes above 43% and Biden hits 51%. “The election is a referendum on Donald Trump and these candidates are expected to have very little influence this year because the American vote is very split based on a useful vote. The pro-Trump who could be libertarians do not want their vote to be lost. The same goes for the anti-Trump who could be tempted by the Green Party ”, underlines Nicole Bacharan, political scientist specializing in the United States and author with Dominique Simonnet of“ First Ladies ”(Tempus).

For some Democrats, however, the trauma of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat is still very much in mind. The former secretary of state then lost in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania by a lower number of votes than Jill Stein, the green candidate, in each of these states. Hawkins, who will compete in the key states of Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, does not intend to play the scapegoat.

“I want to fire Trump from the White House, but I am not a saboteur”, defends Hawkins, interviewed by “If anyone sabotages anything, it’s Biden and the Democrats. He considers that voters voting for him would not participate at all if he did not show up. A valid argument according to a poll conducted by CBS News four years ago : Over 60% of Americans who opted for Jill Stein said they would not have voted at all without the Green Party candidate.

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