THIRD PARTY WOES. As Dave Weigel smartly notes, the Rasmussen poll showing a xenophobic, border-enforcing third party would nearly win the 2006 elections should only be served with a heapin' helping of salt. "Americans," Dave writes, "have had the chance to vote for a candidate for wanted to build a border wall and make immigration crackdowns his #1 priority. He was a nationally-known figure who'd nearly won the Republican nomination in 1996 before leaving the party. He won $12.6 million in federal campaign funds and used them to run striking campaign ads. He was Pat Buchanan and he got less than half of one percent of the vote." Quite a showing.
But we can be much more current than Buchanan. About a year ago, a border-enforcing third-party candidate did run in a primary. His name was Jim Gilchrist, he was the founder of the Minutemen, and he benefited from a storm of free media. Luckier yet, he ran in my home district, California 48, quite possibly the most xenophobic patch of land in the nation. In the end, he got 25% of the vote, fewer than the Democrat(!), and barely half of the Republican's winning 44%. The votes he did steal appeared to have come from the right, as John Campbell took home 20% less than Chris Cox before him. And Gilchrist, remember, was probably the highest profile xenophobe around, running in the most ideologically compatible district in the nation for an open seat. It's an impressive showing, but it's far from a transformative one, and it wasn't successful.