But third party candidates don't have to be a factor at all. With instant runoff voting (IRV) people can voice their support for independents without hurting their second choice, big party politician. It's a way to get some more ideas into the field, give people what they really want, and avoid a winner who the majority does not endorse.
Here's an incomplete list of "other" candidates in contests that are considered close and who may play a role in deciding who comes out on top. Some of these candidates may no longer be on the ballot; if you see an error, or an omission, please let us know.
Alaska governor -- Sarah Palin (R) vs. Tony Knowles (D) for seat of Gov. Frank Murkowski (R), who lost the primary: Billy Toien (Libertarian), Andrew Halcro (Independent)
Arkansas governor -- Asa Hutchinson (R) vs. Mike Beebe (D) for the seat of term-limited Gov. Mike Huckabee (R): Jim Lendall (Green), Rod Bryan (Independent)
Colorado governor -- Bob Beauprez (R) vs. Bill Ritter (D) for the seat of term-limited Gov. Bill Owens (R): Chuck Sylvester (Independent), Dawn Winkler-Kinateder (Libertarian)
Florida governor -- Charlie Crist (R) vs. Jim Davis (D) for the seat of term-limited Gov. Jeb Bush (R): Max Linn (Reform), several independents
Iowa governor -- Chet Culver (D) vs. Jim Nussle (R) for the seat of retiring Gov. Tom Vilsack (D): Wendy Barth (Green)
Maine governor -- Gov. John Baldacci (D) vs. Chandler Woodcock (R): Patricia LaMarche (Green), Barbara Merrill (Independent)
Maryland Senate -- Ben Cardin (D) vs. Michael Steele (R) for the seat of retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D): Kevin Zeese (Green, Libertarian and Populist Parties)
Maryland governor -- Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) vs. Martin O'Malley (D): Ed Boyd (Green), Christopher Driscoll (Populist)
Massachusetts governor -- Kerry Healey (R) vs. Deval Patrick (D) for the seat of retiring Gov. Mitt Romney (R): Christy Mihos (Independent) NOTE: This race is not considered especially close, but Mihos is expected to receive a significant vote.
Michigan Senate -- Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) vs. Mike Bouchard (R): Leonard Schwartz (Libertarian)
Michigan governor -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) vs. Dick DeVos (R): Douglas Campbell (Green)
Minnesota governor -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) vs. Mike Hatch (D): Ken Pentel (Green), Peter Hutchinson (Independent)
Missouri Senate -- Sen. Jim Talent (R) vs. Claire McCaskill (D): Lydia Lewis (Green), Frank Gilmour (Libertarian)
Montana Senate -- Sen. Conrad Burns (R) vs. Jon Tester (D): Stan Jones (Libertarian)
Nevada governor -- Jim Gibbons (R) vs. Dina Titus (D) for the seat of term-limited Gov. Kenny Guinn (R): Craig Bergland (Green), Christopher Hansen (American Independent)
New Jersey Senate -- Sen. Bob Menendez (D) vs. Thomas Kean Jr. (R): Len Flynn (Libertarian), Greg Pason (Socialist)
Ohio Senate -- Sen. Mike DeWine (R) vs. Sherrod Brown (D): Ralph Ferrucci (Green)
Oregon governor -- Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) vs. Ron Saxton (R): Joe Keating (Green), Richard Morley (Libertarian), Mary Starrett (Constitution)
Tennessee Senate -- Bob Corker (R) vs. Harold Ford Jr. (D) for the seat of retiring Sen. Bill Frist (R): Chris Lugo (Green)
Wisconsin governor -- Gov. Jim Doyle (D) vs. Mark Green (R): Nelson Eisman (Green)
See the full article here.
Emma Schwartz is an intern for FairVote.