I see that Yastreblyansky is skeptical about my prediction that Jill Stein could get a lot of attention from the media in the fall and a surprising number of votes, possibly more than any third-party candidate has received since 2000. I'll say this: A significant third-party run by someone other than Stein seems highly unlikely after the weekend.
Bill Kristol, of course, would like me to have the opposite reaction:
Just a heads up over this holiday weekend: There will be an independent candidate--an impressive one, with a strong team and a real chance.— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) May 29, 2016
But there's a damning-with-faint-praise quality about that word "impressive." It's a word you might use in reference to the new intern in your office, someone you'd otherwise refer to as "a really bright kid." If there really is a Kristol candidate, I expect it to be someone who might have been ready for political prime time in a decade or two, but certainly isn't ready now. I assume the "strong team" will be the same clowns and losers who've been doing such a terrible job masterminding the right-wing #NeverTrump movement, or maybe a group of retreads pressed into service by Mitt Romney, even though he refuses to run himself. I think this candidate is going to fade into obscurity, motivating no one other than neoconservative pundits (yes, whoever it is will be the subject of forty or fifty Jennifer Rubin blog posts). I don't even think we'll remember this person is on the ballot by November.
I also don't think the Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld is going to set the world on fire -- hell, the Libertarians themselves don't seem to like them very much. (Here's a RedState post: "Gary Johnson and William Weld Are Fake Libertarians Miseducating the Public.") If you know one thing about Johnson, you know he likes marijuana, has been open and unapologetic about past cocaine use, and has speculated that total drug legalization might be the way to go. The one thing Donald Trump knows about Bill Weld is that he's rumored to have a drinking problem. That's now how you appeal to Republicans put off by Trump's (non-substance-related) excesses.
Maybe the drug stuff will help Johnson with Sanders voters -- but this year, I think what matters most to the Sanders hardcore is progressivism on economics, and Jill Stein is going to say all the right things on that subject, while Johnson/Weld won't.
Yastreblyansky thinks there simply can't be very many states where Stein could get more votes than Trump's margin of victory over Clinton. But why not, say, Ohio? That's a state with a lot of electoral votes where President Obama won in 2012 by less than two percentage points. Ohio State is in Ohio. Kent State is in Ohio. Oberlin is in Ohio. I don't think a state needs to be a youth epicenter to be a place where Jill Stein could get a significant number of votes -- there just have to be a few small concentrations of Sanders-base voters. Why not Florida or Virginia or New Hampshire or Pennsylvania, states where Obama either won by an eyelash in 2012 or won with a a significant number of white votes?
I'm not saying this is going to happen -- I'm saying it might. I'm saying that the media will want to write "Whither the Sanders Coalition?" stories, and finding some Berners aligned with Stein will make a good story. So I'm saying she'll outpoll Johnson and whatever palooka Bill Kristol puts up -- and she might have an influence on the final outcome.