In November 2010, the percentage of voters who cast a vote for an independent or minor party for U.S. House was 3.28% of the total vote cast for U.S. House. The November 2012 percentage can’t be known exactly until the New York State Board of Elections reports the final vote, but it appears it was also 3.3%.
It is somewhat surprising that the “other” vote for U.S. House in 2012 didn’t decline substantially. In November 2010, there was a ballot-listed choice besides “Democrat” or “Republican” in 69% of the districts. But in November 2012, there was a ballot-listed choice other than “Democrat” or “Republican” in only 56% of the districts. The chief reason for the decline in U.S. districts with another choice is that, starting in 2012, California used the top-two system. Whereas 29 California districts in 2010 gave voters a choice other than the major parties, in 2012 only four districts gave voters such a choice.
Another reason for the decline between 2010 and 2012 is that Illinois had the Green Party on the ballot in 2010, but in 2012 there were no ballot-qualified minor parties in that state. Whereas Illinois had 13 districts with an “other” choice on the ballot in 2010, in 2012 there were only five such districts. Two Greens petitioned, and three independent candidates petitioned.
Extrapolating the 2012 data, one could conclude that if all U.S. House districts in 2012 had given voters an “other” choice on the ballot, the “other” vote in 2012 nationally would have been 5.8% of the total vote cast. For purposes of this blog post, the nation is considered to have 436 members of the U.S. House; the District of Columbia Delegate vote is included in all calculations. Also for purposes of these calculations, votes cast for minor parties are considered “other” votes, even if the minor party had cross-endorsed a major party nominee. Finally, write-in votes are excluded from the calculation, unless the write-in candidate was officially supported by a particular party and that particular party had no ballot-listed member on the ballot.