Do third parties matter?

With Wisconsin’s governor election coming up, much of the attention is on Scott Walker and Tony Evers.

But there are four other candidates running for governor who you may not have heard of.

Third party candidates are often forgotten about in politics.

But these political underdogs can sometimes affect the political conversation and even win elections.

UW La Crosse political science professor Joe Heim said, “I think a lot of voters are going to walk in, in November, and be surprised that there are six candidates running for governor of the state of Wisconsin.

You’ll notice on the Nov. 6 ballot that the top two spots of every race are reserved for Republicans and Democrats.

“The Legislature argued that because most people want to vote for Democrats or Republicans we’re just going to make it convenient put them number one and two. It tends to discourage people from looking at the third, fourth, fifth or sixth choice, because frankly the Democrats and Republicans want the votes,” Heim said.

And even though most people don’t vote for a third party, Heim says it can happen.

“Typically third parties get a few votes, five or six percent maybe would be pretty normal for a third party candidate. Sometimes when you have a Democrat, Republican and a very popular person runs as an independent that person could get elected and does. Right now there are two independents in the U.S. Senate,” Heim said.

Heim said in order to win, third-party candidates need two things.

“You need a name that a lot of people identify and recognize a lot of resources,” Heim said.

Otherwise Heim said people will stick with the main two parties.

“The reality is people don’t want to waste their vote they want to be on the deciding between Democrat or Republican,” Heim said.

Libertarian candidate for governor Phil Anderson is hoping to change that.

“Don’t get trapped into thinking that your vote is wasted on a third party candidate that’s simply not true,” Anderson said.

Anderson believes if more people vote third party they could change the political landscape.

“If you give in and vote for the lesser of two evils you’re always only going to have those two evils. We need to support the idea that there should be more choices,” Anderson said.

And even though it’s a long shot Heim says it’s entirely possible that a third party could replace the GOP or Democratic Party.

“It’s not unheard of in our history for a third party to become a number one or two party. If you go back in our history in the United States, the Whig party used to be a really big party, well they disappeared and Republicans replaced them,” Heim said.

In addition to the Libertarian party, the Green party, independent party, and the Wisconsin party have candidates running for governor.

If you would like to learn more about all the candidates you can go to ballotpedia.or

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