Third party candidates, from the left, Jill Stein, from the Green Party, Rocky Anderson, from the Justice Party, Virgil Goode, from the Constitution Party and Gary Johnson, from the Libertarian Party, participate in a debate hosted by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation and moderated by Larry King on Oct. 23 in Chicago.
Cincinnati - They can't possibly win on Election Day, but third-party candidates definitely could matter in the outcome of Ohio's already close presidential election.
Voters in Ohio will find five candidates on the ballot other than President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. If Obama and Romney are tied, as some recent polls have shown, even 1% of votes cast in this battleground state for a third candidate could mean the difference in winning Ohio.
No Republican candidate has ever won the White House without winning Ohio. And no candidate has won the presidency without Ohio since John F. Kennedy won in 1960.
How much of an impact could a third-party candidate have?
"Perhaps enough," said Rob Alexander, chairman of the history, political science and justice department at Ohio Northern University. "Obviously, the race looks like it's going to be really, really tight. The question is: does (the third-party candidate) peel off each candidate equally?"
Roughly 8 million people are registered to vote in Ohio. Turnout estimates vary. More than 5 million Ohioans voted in 2008.
Votes for a third-party candidate aren't wasted, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson points out on his website. Five percent of the vote "ends two-party abuse" and lets a candidate with that much of the vote qualify for federal funding. No third-party candidate did that in 2008.
An Ohio News Organization poll by Ohio's eight largest newspapers found Obama and Romney tied at 49% last week. In that poll, 1% of likely voters who responded said they planned to vote for another candidate.
A CNN poll released Friday found that when the third-party candidates' names were added to the questioning, Obama stood at 48% , Romney at 44% , with Johnson at 4% , Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 2% and Virgil Goode, the Constitution Party candidate, with less than half of one percent.
Jill Stein, Green Party: The centerpiece of the physician's campaign is the Green New Deal, which includes guaranteeing a job to every able American, breaking up big banks and forming state-, federal- and municipal public-owned banks that work as nonprofits.
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