The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Poli sci professors, students talk third-party alternatives

An increasing number of voters now’ agree that the United States political system should be conductive of a major third party, most are unwilling to commit to a third-party candidate when it comes time to cast a ballot ‘- especially young voters.

‘ The Pew Research Center reports that 56 percent of Americans’ agreed that’ our political system should’ contain a major third party, while 39 percent disagreed. The figure is up from four years ago, when’ 49 percent agreed and 45 percent disagreed.’ Young voters ages 18 through 29 represent a stronger level of support for a major third party at 65 percent, a figure that declines to 37 percent for voters over 65.

Yet third-party candidacies never seem to garner nearly that much support.

‘Because our system is relying on the electoral college, the likelihood that an independent candidate would pose a challenge or become viable is almost impossible,’ said Kassem Nabulsi, a professor of political science at CSUN.

That sense of third-party futility is even more enhanced this election season.

‘The stakes are too high, the candidates are so prominent,’ said Nabulsi. ‘They will overshadow, for sure, all other candidates.’

One of the more prominent third-party candidates, Ralph Nader, who is running as an independent, has been running for so long that many previous supporters are now abandoning him, said Nabulsi.

Jason Lay, a senior political science major, expressed his own antipathy towards Nader’s plethora of candidacies. ‘In theory, I think I agree with a lot of what he says,’ said Lay. ‘But like a lot of other people I hold a grudge against him. I feel that he may have, I don’t want to say misappropriated, but perhaps took votes that would have gone elsewhere.’

But Nader is certainly not the only third-party candidate grasping at the presidency, and not every candidate has the same tired history of failed attempts ‘- yet they do, inevitably, fail.

There are two things that voters, especially young voters, seek in a candidate, said Nabulsi. ‘They want somebody to appeal to their intellect, because they are students, but they also want somebody to appeal to their emotional side, because they are young,’ he said. ‘They think they are immortal and they look at the future and they want to see something to be inspired by.’

And there are plenty of issues for students to get emotional about.

‘I think obviously the economy is a big one,’ said Nicolas Stark, a senior political science major. ‘The war is definitely a huge one. Not just the Iraq war, but you know, what’s going on in Afghanistan, and the possible war with Russia or Iran.’

‘The independent candidates are less likely to appeal to the emotional side of the student,’ said Nabulsi, who explained that they are more likely to appeal to students based on concrete issues and specific issues, such as health care. The reason, he said, is a lack of media interest, funding and the backing of a major political organization.

Ross Perot, Nabulsi noted, was able to gain political traction using his vast wealth, an option that is unavailable for other third-party candidates such as the Libertarian nominee, Bob Barr. Nabulsi said, ‘He’s not only not known but he cannot generate the funds that he needs.’

In spite of the unpopularity of third-party candidates, the popular candidate among students seems clear.

‘It is almost without a doubt that Barack Obama has tapped into some of the motivations and enthusiasm of students,’ said Nabulsi, who expressed excitement for both Obama and John McCain.

Lay said he was planning on voting for a major party candidate despite his affinity for certain third-party platforms, but declined to identify which. Describing his reasons he said, ‘Nothing succeeds like success, but nothing fails like failure.’

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