Reading about the election statistics in the United States I was amazed about how few votes are received by the minor parties and their candidates.
For example, Gloria La Riva received only 181 votes in a country of 300-million registered voters for the presidential elections in 1992. I suspect this only marginally exceeds the number of her friends and relatives.
I am quite sure that nothing similar could happen in most other voting cultures. If a person is registered as a presidential candidate and is on the list, they no doubt will receive at least several hundreds of thousands of votes no matter how unpopular or unknown he or she is.
This is because of the following factors:
- Protest voting: people who do not like the major candidates may vote for somebody unknown so to signal their protest
- Confusion: somebody confused the candidate with another public figure due to a similarity in the name
- Solidarity: people from the same geographical area, town or the same ethnic, religious background or the same profession or the same sex may vote for an unknown candidate just due to some background similarity. People of the same neighbourhood usually are well aware of "their" candidate even if he did not receive federal media coverage.
- Random voting: people just vote for somebody with a funny name or happy number in the list
- Biography readers: some elderly people in many countries still retain their a habit of thoroughly reading the candidate's biography, usually listed at the voting place and if they like they can vote despite any TV advertisement
- Just mistakes: a person wanted to vote for another candidate but mistakenly selected this one. Or a mistake during the counting.
So I wonder why these factors do not have any force in the US. To me it seems completely unrealistic and fantastic that a person included in the federal presidential list can earn so few votes.