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Ghosts of Elections Past: Third-Party Shepherds and Stray Voters

Ross Belsome
Robert J. Newman
Adam Parker
Sudipta Sarangi

Louisiana State University

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


The tradition of third parties in America has been evident since at least the 1820s. Their
success in Presidential elections has been very limited. However, a closer look at the data
suggests that third parties on occasion may have shifted the scales in a decisive manner
that is, those occasions when a third party candidate received enough votes to undercut
one of the major party candidates. This is referred to as the third party spoiler effect.
We examine Presidential elections between 1892 and 2004 in search of the spoiler effect
and strategic voting. Spoiler effects were identified in 1912, 1968, 1992, 1996, and 2000.
Finally, voting behavior may also reflect dissatisfaction with incumbents running for re-
election. We conclude with an examination of elections data for instances in which
dissatisfaction with an incumbent was evident.

April 2007

This paper came out of our Econ 4400 class project. We would like to thank Adam Richards for his
suggestions and initial involvement in this project.
1. Preliminaries

Voting behavior through its potential for social change is of great interest to social

scientists, and in particular to economists and political scientists. A host of theoretical

models incorporating alternative assumptions about rationality and informational attempt

to explain how people vote and how candidates choose their platforms. The empirical

analyses of election data have provided us with a number interesting patterns and

anomalies that offer varying degrees of support for these models.

In this paper we study two specific election related phenomena using state level data from

one of the most publicized elections in the world the U.S. Presidential elections. First,

we investigate spoilers candidates who are not one of the two primary candidates in

contention and who are unlikely to win, but can potentially affect the outcome of the

election in a non-trivial way. Second, we look for instances of dissatisfied voting

situations in which an incumbent President seeking re-election gets fewer votes relative

to a benchmark level of votes for that incumbent.

To set the stage for the paper we present a simple voting model. Consider two

candidates who must simultaneously announce their political positions on a continuous

issue spectrum. The issue spectrum is a line of length one, where zero coincides with

left ideas and one coincides with right ideas. Imagine also that at every point on the

issue spectrum there is a voter j, whose js preferred point on the issue spectrum is

denoted by vj. The goal of the candidates is to maximize their votes while the voters wish

to maximize their utility. Voter js utility function is given by

Uj = -d(vj,ck)

where ck is the location of candidate k = 1,2 and d measures the distance between voter

js preferred position and the location of candidate k. The negative sign captures the fact

the further away a candidate is from the voters preferred position, the lower the voters

utility from the candidate. Thus a voter would like the candidates to locate at their

preferred position. Candidates on the other hand prefer locations that are able to

maximize the utility of the largest number of voters.

Consider how this game plays out. Suppose candidate 1 and 2 locate at and ,

respectively. Then candidate 1 receives all votes to the left of and candidate 2 receives

all votes to the right of . It is easy to see that voters in these area of the issue spectrum

(home turf) maximize their utility from such a strategy. The area between (1/4,3/4) is split

equally with the voters between and voting for candidate 1 (because candidate 1 is at

the closet distance to these voters) and similrly, those between and voting for

candidate 2. Further, we assume that if the two candidates locate at the same spot they

split the total votes equally. It is easy to see in the above example that there is a central

tendency on the part of both candidates, i.e, both increase their share of votes by moving

closer to the center. Essentialy by inching closer to the center each candidate increases

the size of her home turf while decreasing the segment of voters that is split between the

two candidates. Indeed the equilibrium of this voting game is for both candidates to

locate in the center, making them equidistant from the end-points.

With the introduction of three candidates however, this simple story is no longer

valid. Many different location choices on the issue spectrum can now be supported as

equilibria of the voting game. In fact, the central tendency argument disappears; all three

candidates locating at the center is no longer an equilibrium. Each candidate gets 33.33

percent of the votes when all three locate at the center. It is clear that by moving slightly

to the left or the right each candidate can increase their individual vote share to almost

fifty percent.

Next we will demonstrate that (1/4,1/4,3/4) is an optimal location choice for the

candidates 1, 2 and 3 repectively in the election game. First observe that candidate 3 is

the winner of this election as she gets half the total votes while the other two candidates

share the other half equally. Therefore given the locations of candidates 1 and 2 (who are

sharing the home turf on the left), candidate 3 has no incentive to deviate. The arguments

for player 1 and 2 are identical and hence we will only go through the reasoning once.

First, given the locations of the other two, candidate 1 will never locate either to the left

of or to the right of . Next we consider if it is possible to do better by locating

between and ? As soon as candidate 1 moves away from everyone to the left of

this point now votes for candidate 2. When this happens candidate 1 will get 25 percent

of the total votes since only half the votes lie between (1/4, 3/4) with the other half

already going to candidate 2 and 3. This also implies that either candidate 2 or candidate

3 is able to get 37.5% (= 25% + the12.5% they get from sharing the turf with candidate 1)

of the votes and win the election. Thus candidate 1 (or 2) has no incentive to change their

location and (1/4,1/4, 3/4) is an equilibrium of the voting game. From this it also follows

that in such a voting game with three parties multiple equilibrium configurations exist.

The wide range of possibilities that can arise even in such a simple voting model that

makes the phenomenon of a spoiler in US Presidential election an interesting issue.

The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 sets out our agenda.

In Section 3 we analyze spoilers and Section 4 explores dissatisfied voting. Finally, in

Section 5 we offer a few concluding remarks.

2. The Agenda

The tradition of third parties in the U.S. Presidential elections is almost as old as

its pattern of two major parties. Functioning third parties have been around in some form

or the other since the 1820s. 1 However, their success in the US presidential elections has

been rather limited. In all, there have been 54 Presidential elections between 1789 and

2004. Only seven of these elections featured a third party candidate receiving one or

more electoral votes. 2 Also, during this entire period there have been only 14 elections

where a third party candidates popular vote total was larger than the difference in total

votes between the two top candidates.

Yet this evidence is misleading. Third parties may not have had much success but

they have played a significant role in the Presidential elections (see Gillespie (1993) for

more on this issue). Here we focus on the strategic aspects of this issue. First, in terms of

the simple model described above, third party candidates often position themselves at the

extreme ends on the issue spectrum, and subsequently pull votes away from majority

candidates. Consequently, this can makes it difficult for the two majority party candidates

to optimally select their locations.

The only U.S. President not from a majority party was George Washington, winner of the 1789 election,
who claimed no political party.
Interestingly, a third party candidate never won a single electoral vote in the elections between 1992 and
2004a decided split with past third parties who have had success.

In order to demonstrate their importance, we identify a subset of third party

candidates whose entrance in the election actually influenced the outcome. We view a

successful third party candidate as one who is able to dissuade enough voters to vote

closer to their ideal point, and ultimately undercut a majority candidate in an election. We

examine all Presidential elections from 1892 to 2004 using state level data and conduct

the following counterfactual exercise: What would have happened if the third party

candidates votes were transferred to the candidate closest to him on the issue spectrum?

The second part of the paper probes dissatisfaction among voters. For evidence of

such discontented voting we examine elections in which an incumbent President sought

re-election. Since the 22nd Amendment came into affect in 1951, we focus on election

between 1952 and 2004. We claim that voters express dissatisfaction or anger when the

vote share of the incumbent in the second election is lower than his share in first election.

We now move on to our analysis of spoilers.

3. Spoilers Over Time

The following steps are used to identify a spoiler. For each election we first look

at the votes earned by the two major candidates in each state. Next, we identify instances

in which a third party candidate obtains more votes than the margin between the two

primary contenders. We transfer the potential spoilers votes to the candidate closest to

him on the issue spectrum. 3 Using this technique, we re-examine the Electoral College

votes assuming that the Electoral College would cast all its votes in favor of the winning

Since there are an infinite number of ways to split this vote between the two majority candidates, we
decide to stick with this extreme option and examine how it affects election outcomes.

candidate in the state. A spoiler is defined as a third party candidate who changes the

outcome of the Presidential election.

We now state the assumptions on which our analysis rests. First, voters who chose

spoiler candidates would have voted even if the spoiler had not run. Second, voters cast

their ballots for the person closest on the political spectrum to that of the spoiler. Finally,

we assume that votes in the Electoral College always go to the candidate receiving a

majority of popular votes in the state (except for states with proportional voting). Of

course the candidate with the most electoral votes (absent the spoiler) wins the election.

To identify spoilers, we look at data from 1892 through the 2004 election. 4 We

chose these years to focus on the modern era of Presidential elections, and because data

prior to the 1892 election are limited. We looked at the number of votes for each

candidate in each state to ascertain the outcome of the election without the spoiler effect,

and then determined the counter-factual outcomes by shifting the popular and hence

electoral votes. Over this period there were five elections where this effect was

significant: 1912, 1968, 1992, 1996, and 2000. We also analyzed the 2004 election to see

how voter behavior may have differed and perhaps became more strategic in an election

directly following an election with a spoiler effect.

We examined various sources to form a simple background of minor party

candidates and where their voters would most likely cast their ballots. 5 Specific election

returns data were collected from David Leips Atlas of United States Presidential

Elections. The Atlas draws from official sources of data, such as the Federal Elections

Commission, to provide a central location for elections data. Individual state vote totals

Later in this section we also look at some earlier elections as specific case studies.
A good source on minor party candidates is Gillespie (1993).

as well as national vote totals are available from this source. These data were useful for

looking at initial electoral results as well as calculating hypothetical vote totals

controlling for the spoiler effect and dissatisfied voting.

1912: Spoiler Becomes Majority Candidate. The election of 1912 was the first election

in which we encounter a spoiler was present. It was an interesting election in which

numerous parties played an integral role in shaping the outcome of events that resulted in

an unusual spoiler. Teddy Roosevelt had previously been a Republican President

following President McKinleys assassination in 1901. He had been re-elected in 1904.

Though he was eligible, he declined to run in 1908; instead offering his endorsement to

Republican William Taft. 6 Disappointed with Tafts performance as President, Roosevelt

ran as the Progressive Partys candidate in 1912 and gained more votes in the election

than Taft. 7 However, when we combined Taft and Roosevelts candidacies, we find an

overwhelming victory for Roosevelt, who we considered to be the majority candidate

over Taft.

Also, this election had two lesser candidates who we considered potential

spoilers: Eugene Debs of the Communist Party and Eugene Chafin of the Prohibition

Party. Both were similar to Democratic Party candidate Woodrow Wilson. Therefore,

their votes were added to Wilsons total. 8 In this election, Debs and Chafin, combined,

took fewer votes from Wilson than Taft did from Roosevelt, which allowed Wilson to

win. California was the only exception. In that state, Debs and Chafin took away a larger

The 22nd Amendment that limited Presidents to two terms did not come into affect till 1951.
Needless to say this was one dissatisfied voter!
Among all the elections this was the single exception to the three-candidate scenario, and provided for
what could claimed as multiple potential spoilers.

portion of the votes than did Taft. The results of this election with and without the

spoiler effect along with Electoral College votes are summarized in Table 1.

1968: Racism Rears its Ugly Head. It took another fifty six years and 13 elections

before we find another spoiler (see Table 1). In the hotly contested 1968 election, former

Democratic Governor of Alabama, George Wallace ran on a predominantly racist

platform with the American Independent Party. Wallace was able to consolidate a large

number of voters in the South that were traditionally Democrats. His candidacy

effectively undercut the Democratic candidate, Hubert Humphrey. 9 Richard Nixon the

Republican candidate, on the other hand, was faced no such opposition (though it could

be argued that his law and order campaign pledges were comparable to those of Wallace).

Wallaces objective was to send the election to the House of Representatives by keeping

either candidate from receiving a majority of the votes. He believed he could control the

election from the House of Representatives through Southern Congressmen. As a caveat

it should be noted that Humphrey came from an administration that passed some of the

most notable legislation on Civil Rights, so it might be a leap of faith to assume that all of

Wallaces voters would have chosen Humphrey. However, given Wallace had run for the

Democratic Partys Presidential nomination in 1964 and later in 1972 and 1976.

Moreover, due to his former allegiances and Democratic leanings in the South prior to the

1968 election, Wallaces votes were ascribed to Hubert Humphrey.

This is not entirely surprising. Humphrey was a somewhat weak candidate since he had not won a single
primary in the run-up to the election.

1992: Big Ears and Broken Hearts. In 1992, George H.W. Bush was seeking re-

election. His campaign focused on his foreign policy credentials and prohibiting tax

increases in 1988. The climate in 1992, however, was altogether different. The economy

was in recession and Bush had raised taxes to control deficits. Furthermore, the end of the

Cold War made foreign policy a less pressing issue. Bill Clinton wisely ran a campaign

on a platform of improving the economy. Added to the mix, Independent Party candidate,

Ross Perot, campaigned on fundamental tax reform initiatives. The recession and his

support for new taxes were the two most critical negatives for Bush. These two issues

created a situation where many traditional Republicans sought an alternative candidate.

They found that candidate in Perot. While Perot and Clinton attacked Bush on similar

points, Perot appeared to be ideologically similar to Bush. Thus we transferred his votes

to Bush. However, this election differed from previous elections with spoilers present.

Though Perot did not garner any electoral votes, his campaign had a substantial impact

on the popular vote (Table 2). Thus, in the absence of Perots campaign, Bush would

have had a landslide re-election victory. Under our counterfactual exercise, Clinton

would win only Arkansas, Maryland, New York, and Washington D.C. The results are

summarized in Table 1.

1996: Again? In 1996 two candidates from 1992 were back in the fray: Ross Perot was

now the Reform Party candidate, while William Jefferson Clinton was seeking re-election

as a Democrat. The Republican Partys new entry into the field was Senator Robert Dole

of Kansas. While a potential spoiler effect was certainly present in this election, the

margin of victory in some states was very small. In Pennsylvania (23 electoral votes), the

margin of victory in the counterfactual exercise was only 0.36 percent. In Wisconsin (11

electoral votes), the margin of victory was 0.02 percent. In our exercise, Dole wins by a

mere 38 votes. With 34 electoral votes decided by such a small margin and the fact that a

fraction of Perot votes would likely have gone to Clinton, predicting a clear victory for

Dole controlling for Perot is tenuous, at best. Table 1 shows the effect of the spoiler for

this election.

2000: Oh What a Difference 537 People Make! This is probably the clearest example of

a spoiler in all Presidential elections. In this election, it can be argued that George Bush

and Al Gore both moved very close to the center of the political spectrum, while Ralph

Nader appealed to the far left. While only two states switched in our analysis, New

Hampshire and Florida, it was more than enough to give Gore the victory. If Gore had

not won Florida, but won New Hampshire, he still would have won four votes, the same

number of votes by which Bush won the actual election. If he had won both New

Hampshire and Florida, he would have won the election by 29 electoral votes. From the

537 votes that made up the margin in Florida, we can reasonably assume that at least 537

of Naders 97,488 Florida voters would have chosen Gore. Also it is safe to assume that

in New Hampshire 22,000 plus votes for Nader would have covered the 7,200 votes Gore

needed to win the state. Compared to all previous spoilers, Nader was the least likely to

actually win the election. Nader received the lowest percentage of the popular vote, and

no electoral votes. He was never considered to be a viable candidate and was given

virtually zero probability of victory. Nader may have had other objective, however. It is

possible that his intent was shock the mainstream Democratic Party, which had moved

away from the left during the more centrist Clinton years. It is also possible that he

wanted to demonstrate how similar the two parties had become. 10 Table 1 has the

election results for what has been called the Nader effect, but could more appropriately

be called the spoiler effect:

Popular Vote Totals. As a check of our methodology we also examine the evidence from

popular vote totals in the Presidential elections for the period 1892-2004. We find six

elections between 1892 and 2004 where the votes for the third party candidate covered

the margin of difference between the two major party candidates. The six elections are

reported in Table 2. In the 1892 election Cleveland got 277 (46% of popular vote) and

Harrison got 145 (43% of popular vote) Electoral College votes, respectively. While

James Weaver had 8.5 percent of the popular vote, he managed to get only 22 Electoral

College votes. In 1996 Ross Perot got 8.4 percent of the popular vote, which just below

the 8.5 percent margin between Clinton and Dole. However, given the difference was

only 0.1 percent, we decided to include this election in Table 2. The controversial

election of 2000 is also interesting since Al Gore indeed had more popular votes than the

winner George W. Bush.

We do not include the 1980 election, which has been frequently cited as one

affected by a spoilerin this case, John Anderson, an independent candidate. However,

Andersons received only 6.6 percent of the popular vote, which in not close to 9.7

percent margin of victory between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. The election of

One might argue that Nader voters would not have gone to the polls in his absence, but with the margins
as small as they were and the number of Nader voters covering them as easily, you would likely have seen
more than enough Nader voters strategically vote for Gore to cover the gap. This can be seen in the lower
number of independent voters in Floridas 2004 Presidential totals.

1924 which has not been included in the table was also close in terms of popular votes.

Republican candidate and winner Calvin Coolidge had 54.1 percent of the popular vote,

while the Democratic candidate John Davis had 28.8 percent of the popular vote. Robert

LaFollette of the Progressive party had 16.6 percent of the popular vote, substantially less

than the margin of 25.1 percent. 11 The 1948 election was also close in terms of popular

votes with 4.4 percent margin between Democrat Harry Truman and Republican Thomas

Dewey. Strom Thurmond, the Presidential candidate for the States Rights Party garnered

2.4 percent of the popular vote and 39 Electoral College votes while the margin between

the two primary candidates was 114 votes. 12 Finally, the 1960 has been characterized as a

narrow consensus with only a 0.2 percent margin between Kennedy and Nixon in the

popular vote. An interesting anomaly that occurred in this election was the fact that

Virginia Senator Harry Byrd received 15 electoral votes despite the fact that he was not

on the ballot and thus did not receive any popular votes.

From our experiment, we see that in many elections with third party candidates

there is no evidence of a spoiler effect. This could be due to the fact that the third party

candidate was weak relative to the two main contenders. Alternatively, absence of a

spoiler effect may be due to the high costs of campaigning successfully or the extreme

nature of the third party candidates location on the issue spectrum.

We do however find evidence that when the third party candidate was a force to

reckon with, outcomes can be substantially different if voters were limited to only two

options on the ballot. In the five elections, the spoilers votes covered the margin of

victory in a number of key electoral states. With these votes, we would have had

Prior to being the Progressive party candidate LaFollette had lost the Republican primaries to Coolidge.
Henry Wallace of the Progressive/American Labor Party also had 2.4 percent of the popular vote but did
not receive any Electoral College votes.

different Presidents. Obviously, this inference depends critically on our assumptions

about how to distribute spoiler votes. The election of 1912 is unique in that it throws up

multiple spoilers while the 2000 Presidential Elections provide the clearest evidence for

the spoiler exercise. George Wallace and the 1968 election is perhaps the most

problematic for us. Nixons pollsters claimed that most of his votes would have gone to

Nixon and Nixon certainly worried about this. Yet given Wallace political affiliations, it

only seemed logical to transfer his votes to Humphrey. Clearly if his vote base did not

come from those who would have preferred the Democratic Party the outcome of this

election would not change and we would have one less spoiler.

Our analysis revealed another interesting pattern. Evidence suggests that there

were three consecutive elections between 1992 and 2000 in which there was a

demonstrable spoiler effect. This is unheard of previously in American elections, and

may have to do with how closely the two parties may have become aligned on the

political spectrum. An alternative explanation advances in communications technology

may have reduced the costs of exploiting the publicity gained in the election campaign.

Of course while this is true for all candidates, the marginal returns are highest for the

third party candidate. It is also possible the better communication technology provides

additional incentive to potential spoilers by making it easy to obtain book deals and other

such offers. Finally, we conclude this section by looking at two specific cases.

Case I. 2004: Im Not Making the Same Mistake Twice. Consider the Nader effect in

the 2004 election. Although there was no spoiler effect in this case, there is evidence of

strategic voting (see Table 3). This helps us draw comparisons between voter behaviors

in a mostly identical setting. John Kerry and Al Gore both had played very much to the

center of the political issue spectrum, making them both vulnerable to spoilers such as

Nader. However, in the 2004 election, we did not see a repeat of the spoiler effect

against Kerry. There may, however, be external reasons other than a change in voter

behavior. For example, Nader had difficulties getting his name on the ballot, and his

potential voters were split between the Green Party and his own candidacy. In this

election there were three states with small margins of victory. After the accounting for

the potential spoiler effect, Wisconsin remained in favor of Kerry, New Mexico would

still have gone for Bush, and Iowa would have only changed for Kerry if all other minor

candidates were added to Kerrys total (which would include candidates who would have

more closely aligned with Bush, such as Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik). 13 In

this case, voters may have realized how small the margin of error can be Presidential

elections thus, rather than voting for their ideal position, voters are choosing to vote

strategically. 14

Case II. 1824: A Different Type of Game. The 1824 election presents an interesting and

unique case. When an election enters the House of Representatives, a different type of

game emerges. 15 Votes can be gained with direct political favors. The 1824 election

provides a historical precedent for this outcome. In this election, no Presidential

candidate received the required majority of 131 votes from the Electoral College (see

One electoral vote was given to John Edwards, Kerrys running mate. It marked the first time in
American history a member of the Electoral College gave a vote for President and Vice President to the
same individual.
This effect was visible in the fall off in support for Ross Perot in 1996, but shows itself more clearly in
the 2004 election.
Recall this was George Wallaces (failed) objective in the 1968 Presidential elections.

Table 4 below). Consequently, when the vote reached the House of Representatives,

Henry Clay ceded his votes to John Quincy Adams in return for a promise to appoint him

Secretary of State after Adams became President. Clays votes allowed Adams to win a

majority of votes in the House although Andrew Jackson had the largest number of

electoral votes in the initial election. Since he had largest number of popular votes and

electoral votes among all candidates Jackson expected to be President. Jackson and his

followers accused Clay and Adams of striking a corrupt bargain. Jackson had his revenge

when he won the 1928 election against Adams.

4. Dissatisfied Voters

In this section we explore the dissatisfied voter effect. It might be argued that

individuals casting a vote for a third party candidate, knowing in advance that the

candidate may have little chance of winning, is an expression of dissatisfaction. The

voters dissatisfaction [We need a discussion about how this fits in with the spoiler

issue. Also, what are the possible behavioral outcomes for a dissatisfied voter?] In

order to identify dissatisfied voters, we focus on elections in which an incumbent seeks

re-election. Further, to avoid confounding issues raised by the 22nd Amendment, we

examine elections from 1952 to the present. Dissatisfied voters are generally considered

as those voters who change their vote preferences from one election to the next

specifically with respect to a particular candidate. Unfortunately, these data on voting

behavior are not available. Hence, we identify the potential effects of dissatisfied voters

by comparing the difference in votes received by an incumbent in the first and second

elections. While this strategy ignores the presence of a potential anti-incumbency bias,

our data suggest that this may not be a serious problem.

To make our strategy operational, we use the election results from the

incumbents first election as our benchmark. An alternative strategy is to compare how an

incumbent performs in his second election at time t compared to the votes his party got in

the election immediately preceding (t 1) and succeeding (t + 1) the second election.

Unfortunately this measure is flawed if an incumbent wins both elections (t 1 and t),

then at t + 1 there may exists a bias against the incumbents party, which would have

been in power for eight years. This bias will affect the average of t 1 and t + 1.

Similarly, all such measures using any combination of past and succeeding elections will

involve some type of bias. Since our focus is on measuring possible dissatisfaction with

the candidate and not the party, we avoid using the alternative measures.

Table 5 presents the results of our strategy for identifying the presence of

dissatisfied voters in Presidential elections. Since 1952 there have been seven elections in

which an incumbent has sought re-election. We examine the election data for these

incumbents in two waysnationally and at the state level. In column four we report the

percent of the total popular vote received by each incumbent in elections at t and t 1.

The percentage measure implicitly controls for the possibility that voter turnout in the

two elections might differ substantially. Column five contains the percentage point

change in the incumbents share of the popular vote from the first to the second election.

Clearly, a negative number implies that, on net, voters were dissatisfied with the

incumbents performance. Our results suggest that voters were dissatisfied with the

performance of Jimmy Carter (- 9.1) and George Bush (- 15.9). However, focusing on the

returns at the national level does not necessarily reveal a complete picture of voter


In the last column we report the percent of states in which the incumbents share

of the popular vote fell. Two interesting results emerge from this analysis. Despite the

fact that Eisenhowers share of the total popular vote at the national level increased, his

share of the popular vote declined in XX states (40% of the states). Even though

Eisenhower was re-elected, there was a substantial amount of voter dissatisfaction with

his performance.

The level of dissatisfied voting appears to have upset the re-election bids of

Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George Bush in 1992. In both cases their share of the popular

votes declined in all states, including Washington D.C.


Kimberling, William C. The Electoral College. Federal Election Commission

Website: The Electoral College.

Gardner, Roy. Games for Business and Economics. 2nd Edition (Hoboken, NJ: John
Wiley and Sons Publishing) 2003.

Gillespie, J. D. Politics at the Periphery: Third Parties in Two-Party America. The

University of South Carolina Press, 1993.

Leip, David. David Leips Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections.*

Wikipedia. U.S. Presidential Election. Dates Accessed: Approximately September 17

December 6th, 2005.**

*David Leip is an IBM programmer who also maintains an atlas on Presidential elections.
This resource was most helpful, as it includes a vote calculator, precise voting data on
each state from 1892 to 2004, as well as number of helpful articles discussing things like
the merits of the Electoral College and other interesting items. We used this website,

which already had a database with the data we needed, to map out our election results
according to our scenario, and so would be cited often and redundantly throughout my

**Similarly, Wikipedia provides a wonderful resource to find background information on

Presidential candidates and their viewpoints. We made extensive use of Wikipedia and
common knowledge to make our determinations of where we wanted to place spoilers
and traditional candidates on the issue spectrum. This resource would also be cited in a
redundant manner as it was used quite often to aid us in our arguments of where to place
candidates on the spectrum.

Table 1
The Spoiler Effect: Summary of Electoral Votes
Original Electoral Spoiler
Year Candidate Votes Spoiler Effect Winner Winner

1912 Wilson 435 248

Roosevelt 88 283

Taft (S) 8 N/A

Chafin (S) 0 N/A

Debs (S) 0 N/A

1968 Nixon 301 79

Humphrey 191 459

Wallace (S) 46 N/A

1992 Clinton 370 52

Bush 168 486

Perot (S) 0 N/A

1996 Clinton 379 288

Dole 159 250

Perot (S) 0 N/A

2000 Bush 271 242

Gore 267 296

Nader (S) 0 N/A

Note: Column 4 of the table shows the vote if spoilers votes were transferred to the candidate closest to
him on the political specrum. The last column shows the candidate who would win under such a transfer.

Table 2
The Spoiler Effect: Percent of Popular Vote

Year Democrat Republican Third Party Margin a

1892 46% 43% 8.5% 3%

(Grover (Benjamin Harrison) (James Weaver,
Cleveland) Populist)

1912 41.8% 23.2% 27.4% 14.4%

(Woodrow (William Taft) (Teddy Roosevelt,
Wilson) Progressive)

1968 42.7% 43.4% 13.5% 0.7%

(Herbert (Richard Nixon) (George Wallace,
Humphrey) Amer.

1992 43% 37.4% 18.9% 5.6%

(Bill Clinton) (George Bush) (Ross Perot,

1996 49.2% 40.7% 8.4% 8.5%

(Bill Clinton) (Bob Dole) (Ross Perot,

2000 48.4% 47.9% 2.7% -.5%

(Al Gore) (George W. Bush) (Ralph Nader,

Margin between winner and runner-up.

Table 3
Electoral Votes in the 2004 Presidential Election


Before Spoiler Effect After Spoiler

George W. Bush 286 286

John F. Kerry 251 251

Ross Perot 0 0

Table 4
Votes in the 1824 Presidential Election

Presidential Candidate Popular Votes Electoral Votes

Andrew Jackson 41.3% 99

John Quincy Adams 30.9% 84

William Crawford 11.2% 41

Henry Clay 13.0% 37

Table 5
Dissatisfied Voters and Election Outcomes

Change in Percent of
Popular Percent of Percent States with
Election Votes Total Share of Dissatisfied
Incumbent Year Received Popular Vote Popular Vote Voters

Dwight 1952 34,075,529 55.2%

+ 2.2 39.6%
1956 35,579,180 57.4%

Richard 1968 31,783,783 43.4%

+ 17.3 0
1972 47,168,710 60.7%

Jimmy 1976 40,831,881 50.1%

- 9.1 100%
1980 35,480,115 41.0%

Ronald 1980 43,903,230 50.8%

+ 8.0 0
1984 54,455,472 58.8%

George 1988 48,886,597 53.4%

- 15.9 100%
1992 39,104,550 37.5%

Bill 1992 44,909,806 43.0%

+ 6.2 0
1996 47,400,125 49.2%

George W. 2000 50,460,110 47.9%

+ 2.8 5.9% *
2004 62,040,610 50.7%

While Bushs share of the popular vote fell in three states, the mean percentage point
reduction was only 0.68%.