Why Kanye West and other third-party candidates always had bad luck in presidential elections?

Xiaodong Fang
3 min readNov 20, 2020
Kanye West ran for President in 2020 as the nominee of “Birthday Party.” | Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Kanye West, presidential nominee of “Birthday Party,” collected 60,000 votes out of an estimated total of 160 million. In his four months campaign, the Grammy Award-winning rapper has failed to complete some “necessary” tasks of winning - such as collecting thousands of signatures to have his name on the ballot (his name appeared on 12 states), building a 15% on average polls to appear on presidential debates, and raising large amounts of money to support his campaign…

Libertarian Jo Jorgensen claimed to receive more than 1.5 million votes, less than 1% of total votes in 2020. The figure is far less than 3.28% of the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee Gary Johnson in 2016. Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins also earned much less vote share (<0.1%) this election than 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who won 1% of the popular vote that year.

Throughout history, only four third-party candidates have ever won electoral votes (EV).

Why do thrid-parties and independents always have bad luck with their presidential bids? The answers could be categorized into three areas: 1) environmental disadvantage, 2) resource shortage, and 3) strategic disqualification.

I would like to share some insights into one of the three categories — environmental disadvantage.

1. Electoral System

In the Electoral College system, the winner of the plurality of the statewide vote receives all of that state’s electors, except Maine and Nebraska. The winner-take-all system significantly favors the two major political parties, according to Duverger’s Law. State-level presidential elections are like single-member districts, in which the odds of a party winning such elections are much higher if only two parties exist.

In 1992, Ross Perot got 19% of the popular vote as the third-party candidate, the second highest in history next to that of Theodore Roosevelt in 1912.

Xiaodong Fang

Political Scientist studied and worked at #Georgetown #IowaState #JamesMadison | Observing #Elections and #China