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With Extra Political Parties in California, Big Two Still Pack Big Punch. Why?

Richard Winger’s Ballot Access News points me to fresh polls in a California Secretary of State race reopened by the revelation that gun control candidate Leland Yee had been brokering illegal gun sales on the sly. The story of Leland Yee is surely an entertaining one, but the polls in the race he leaves behind are interesting too.

Let’s look at the polls in this open moment, when sheer shock leaves possibilities open:

April 11 California Secretary of State Poll

In case you’re curious, that’s a different Pete Peterson up at the top of the ticket from our favorite gut-the-poor billionaire.  But look down the ticket.  There’s a Green there.  Greens have ballot access in California, but in this race the Green candidate isn’t appealing to voters, with a 5% poll share.

Look elsewhere, to the most recent political party registration report for the state of California, which shares the locations with the highest third-party registrations:

Locations in California with the greatest share of third-party registrants

As you can see, there is no county in California where a third party has as much as a 6% share of registrations.  In some cases, as with Americans Elect, the low registration share is a result of a defunct organization.  But the Greens, whether you agree with them or not, have been working for a long time at building their political party share; their organization is active and enduring, if small.  And if you have ever had a conversation with a member of the Libertarian Party, you’ve felt the zeal, a zeal that gives off the impression that there are more Libertarians out there then there really are.

Ballot access proponents have focused on the mechanics for getting third parties on the ballot.  But once they’re there, what keeps them from rising?  What keeps these third parties down?  Tell me what you know.

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