As a New Yorker, I've always been willing to vote third party in general elections. Heck, when my wife and I moved this year and needed to re-register, we both switched form Democrat to Independent. We'd only joined the Dems to vote for Hillary when she ran in the Senate primary. Overall, we both have the same problems with mainstream Democrats that many of you do.
Before I lived here, I lived in New Mexico. That's a purple state that's blue leaning. But I had reason to vote Green as often as possible because, during the 90s, the Greens were earning major party status there. It didn't work out, but the votes were worth whatever they might have cost anyone.
But this year, I'm starting to really fear the "Obama loses the popular vote but wins the electoral college" result. It's certainly possible. And, it's happened in recent history. One thing that I've always kind of respected about George W. Bush is that he never let the 2000 elections get to him. He never acknowledge the asterisk to his victory, where a historian would tell us that he lost the national popular vote and may well have lost Florida. He just governed, his way. There were all sorts of reasonable calls for a truly bipartisan cabinet, but he ignored them. And, everyone forgot.
Yes, Democrats were crushed and angry by Gore's defeat. Yes, they questioned the decisions made, particularly in Florida. But the idea that Gore won the popular vote was something that our side didn't give much credit. Most lefties I knew figured that we all knew the rules going in and that, much as it might smart, a popular vote victory is not sufficient to secure the White House.
Republicans will not be so understanding. Well, they might understand, but they won't let on that they do. The people who brought you Kenya's Socialist Dictator will feast on a popular vote win. They will loudly proclaim their epic butthurt, and the media will listen and no amount of well reasoned blogs about how, "That's not what you guys were saying in 2000," will matter.
I believe that Obama is ahead in the right states and I always defer to Articleman on polls because he likes them more than I do, but the popular vote does matter this time. And, yes, it's because our opponents are crazy. And, yes, I realize that's a lame appeal.
But, they are.
Obama believes that a second victory will force the Republicans to work with him. I think that's wishful thinking. But, it's a decent wish. Obama's plan for his second term depends on him having a victory without an asterisk. He has to beat Romney and the Republicans in order to, as Josh Marshall might say, win the "bitch slap" game. Sadly, that game is more important than us policy-enthusiasts like to admit. Obama needs a popular vote win, however narrow. Nobody ever complains about narrow. Heck, for all practical purposes, Kerrey came as close to beating Bush as Gore did, on a national basis. And, nobody cared.
Usually, in an election like this, I'd go ahead and vote for some third party candidate promising something I'd really like, such as an end to prohibitions against victimless crimes, a transaction tax on Wall Street and the repeal of the Patriot Act.
Obama's definitely not my ideal guy, idea-wise. But, I'm voting for him because I think he need a popular vote win to beat the John Boehner veto.
Also, Supreme Court... natch. 4-8 more years of a Republican making appointments and it won't matter who we elect anymore.