no vote shamingIf you’re a registered to vote as a member of Peace & Freedom Party, the Green Party or any third party, you likely have experienced some combination of dumbfounded confusion and vote-shaming. Derision like “You’re throwing your vote away!” and “Your candidate has no chance of winning!” and of course that go-to of the contemporary Democrat, “A vote for anyone other than Biden is a vote for Trump!”

But in California*, just the slightest application of the simplest mathematics (no, really) can illustrate the emptiness of such dogmatic thinking. In California*, the truth is that even the most Trumpophobic voters are guaranteed to be completely “safe” in voting for any candidate for the US presidency, vote-shamers be damned.

The mathematical facts

In the 2016 General Election, six political parties were represented by five candidates for the US presidency on the California ballot. In 2020, six candidates representing six parties were listed and another five were officially recognized write-in candidates.  

The results of these elections are well known enough, but apparently the numbers could bear some scrutiny.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton received over 8.75 million voters – or 61. 7% of ballots cast – in California. Meanwhile, Donald Trump (the nominee of both the Republican Party and the American Independent Party) got over 4.48 million votes (31.6%). Third party candidates and write-ins combined for about 943,000 votes (app. 6.9%).

In 2020, Joe Biden won some 11.11 million votes (63.5%) to Trump’s 6.0 million (34.3%) and the third-parties/write-ins’ 384,000 (2.3%).

With both California elections going to the Democrats at a 2:1 ratio, certainly even overzealous Democratic Party adherents can agree that no threat to their party’s supremacy exists in this state.

Additionally, consider that Bernie Sanders received some 2.32 million votes in California’s primary election of 2016 against 2.71 million. If every single one of those Sanders primary voters had supported, say, Peace & Freedom Party POTUS candidate Gloria la Riva in November, Clinton still would have won the state’s electors with over 45.3% of the popular vote, besting Trump by a landslide 3:2 ratio – a cost-free shove on the Overton Window.

Margin of Victory: The vote-shamer’s new argument

For Election 2024, the Democrats are fighting quite the uphill battle in selling their crummy incumbent candidate in the so-called “safe” “blue” states in which Not-The-Republican is unlikely to motivate people. Reality dictates that the only way the Democratic Party loses California is if they lose nearly every other state as well, a scenario which hasn’t been close to playing out since the 1980s.

So the Democratic Party has come up with a clever new argument for voting for their candidate in states such as California where “lesser evil” rhetoric is mathematically ridiculous. Today, the party of Genocide Joe emphasizes the importance of “Margin of Victory.”

This new argument goes like this: The larger the margin the Democrats beat the Republicans by in “safe” states, the stronger their position will be versus the Republicans. For bonus points, the party’s base is told that if they work very hard to convince people of this, some sort of reward is forthcoming, the details regarding which are to be sorted out later.

No evidence is ever presented that this has ever held true, and all experience speaks to the contrary. When the Democrats lose the Electoral College even when they win the popular vote – as in the 2000 and 2016 general elections – on account of huge margins in “safe” states, the party responds not by rewarding The Base but by flogging them harder, as it’s clearly their fault (along with a “vote-stealing” third party, usually the Greens) that the Republicans won. And when the Democrats win by whatever margin, they give us their neoliberal program, which The Base is admonished to accept as-is without complaint, lest aid and comfort is given to the Republicans by such disloyalty.

Even on its own basis, the argument fails, because it still depends on the notion that any vote not explicitly cast for the Democrats is actually a vote for the Republicans. In the above scenario regarding 2016, for example: If everyone who voted for Bernie in the 2016 Democratic primary had voted Peace & Freedom in the general, the number of votes for the Republican would have been the same; the ratio of Democratic-to-Republican votes would have been reduced from 2:1 to 3:2, PFP would have taken the bronze with over 2 million votes, and the margin of not-Republican to Republican votes would, of course, have been exactly the same.

In Election 2024, therefore, PFP and third-party voters in California* should feel confident and clear of conscious to not to vote for that candidate which they feel truly represents them, but also to mollify the irrational with some very simple logic.

And to all you vote-shamers out there, we implore you: Do the math. Please.

California*: Hardly an exception 

*Most of the argumentation put forth here may also be applied to General Election voting in the states of Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. In each state in the 2020 election did one of the “big two” candidates win by 16% or more of the popular vote.

--written by David Campbell and David Landry

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The California statewide primary election of March 5, 2024, includes first-round elections for political offices at all levels of government in the leadup to November's general election. Keep up with all the news regarding  Peace & Freedom Party and Left Unity Slate candidates as well as PFP's stands on ballot props and other items on the ballot.

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