It always bugs me, if third party candidates have no chance because they have significantly less money for their campaigns or just because they are simply weird:

The date is 1st May of 2016. Everything you know till this moment is exactly as you knew it. But we will change one thing:

It is becoming more and more apparent, that candidates of main political parties will most probably be Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

One super rich billionaire realizes he does not want either of them to be president.

It is bit too late to run for president himself, so he decides to give 2 billion dollars to fund the campaign of a third party candidate.

Because I am personally fan of Green Party, he decides to give all this funds to Jill Stein

Yes, I am aware of fact that one person cannot give that huge amount of money himself. But I am also aware of fact that there are way of how to do it (create dummy non-profit organizations, and so on).

So, please keep out of scope the fact that it is really hard to donate that amount of money as single person. Also assume, that Jill Stein is going to accept that money without asking and use all of it for her campaign.

So, say that from middle of May of 2016, Jill Stein is everywhere - she has lots of ad space to rent, she has lots of celebrities to endorse her...

Will this be enough to get her elected as president in the modern United States?


closed as off-topic by John Dallman, Hohmannfan, Mołot, TrEs-2b, Ranger Oct 3 '16 at 10:55

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  • $\begingroup$ So is this question about presidency in general, or is it about the specific position as president of the United States of America? $\endgroup$ – a CVn Oct 3 '16 at 8:23
  • $\begingroup$ It is about specific position of President of United States of America $\endgroup$ – Pavel Janicek Oct 3 '16 at 8:32
  • $\begingroup$ On your original premise, you might consider whether the voting system itself biases toward two parties. Read up on first past the post systems vs. something like instant runoff or some other system. $\endgroup$ – Joel Harmon Oct 3 '16 at 11:34

No. There are far too many people who will just always vote for a specific party and always have voted for it.

There are "swing voters" but generally the result of an election (in places where voting is not mandatory) is more about whether a party can mobilize their "core support" than which way the swing voters swing.

Because those core supporters are only really deciding "vote or not" not who to vote for the two main parties have a lock in unless something happens to radically disrupt that voting base.

Note that Trump got where has has by being one among many and having the other votes split between his opponents. If he was standing as an independent presidential candidate he would get no-where.


Can money buy you position of President of United States of America?

Of course

It would be probably too late with this election, so I'll speak about case when there's more time to prepare. With infinite money it is definitely possible, without money - not so, hence money can definitely byu it. The trick will be to figure out reliable way to do it that is also cheap enough to bother.

First of all, citizens do not elect the president, electoral college does. Bribing ~300 of ~500 actual voters is way easier than bribing significant part of the population. This is what brings victory. Sure, these people usually reflect how people in their state had voted, but they are under no obligation to do so and sometimes they do vote differently.

Their votes are public so simply bribing people responsible for counting would not fly.

However, making a lot of actual voters to vote for some unpopular candidate would be expensive. Thus, you'll have to make your candidate popular enough.

Uprooting two-party system would be expensive. Sure, if there's a third-party who's quite similar to a candidate of mainstream party and that causes something like 25-35-40 citizen voice split (mainstream-3rd party-mainstream), strategic voting for 3rd party candidate by actual voters may look feasible with explanation like "It's obvious that people want either of those, so we made sure they get either of those". That's an option.

However, there's another option to use two-party system and make sure that your candidate is one of mainstream ones. This nets you lots of voters and makes electing your candidate believable. If either of candidates is controversial enough, nobody can have good estimates on how citizens will vote. This will allow you to get creative with counting citizen votes and ensure good results for your candidate.

Fool's gold

Having control over POTUS is nice but why would you need all that power? Usually if you have lots of money you already work fine with existing system. Major changes are more likely to disrupt your money flow. If you need some legislation or whatnot it would be orders of magnitude cheaper to buy it and don't bother with control over President.

It would maybe make sense if lots of players pooled their money to promote their common corporate shill, but other than that you're better off with buying small favours from big people or their underlings rather than creating big people for exclusive use.


yes, wait, maybe?

Let's state a few political truths

  1. People vote, likely for candidates they agree with.
  2. You need money to run a campaign.
  3. There is a maximum campaign coverage.
  4. There winds up being only two real choices by the end

Because of the fact that people vote, mixed with truth 4, means that just because you guaranteed she makes it there, does not mean people will vote for her. She needs to win over the people. Because of truth 3, there is a maximum that money can buy and that leads to your answer;

To guarantee presidency, you need to buy it and because of how presidency works, you need to buy votes in order to do that. That is illegal, so the answer is no, but then again, depending on your wealth, you could;

  • Go back and offer a 0% tax, pay for the nation out of your pocket, this will likely end in bankruptcy and a terrible fate for the nation.
  • Suppress the courts, buy the judges, pay off the jury, etc.
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Well, money can buy the best scriptwriters and strategists too. $\endgroup$ – Snow Oct 3 '16 at 7:17
  • $\begingroup$ I've no idea what your second bullet point is trying to say... $\endgroup$ – Tim B Oct 3 '16 at 8:25
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It doesn't really make sense, smells vaguely racist, and I don't think you know what SJW means... $\endgroup$ – Tim B Oct 3 '16 at 8:45
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I still don't get it. I recognise the words, but their order doesn't make sense. The point of a joke is that people should get it without having to have it explained. Your explanation doesn't help me get it. $\endgroup$ – a4android Oct 3 '16 at 8:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Anti-white racism is a racism none the less. We don't usually laugh about "jokes" based on the idea that blacks are inclined to criminality, do we? This "joke" is no different, not really. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 3 '16 at 8:58

Campaign finance

Yes, I am aware of fact that one person cannot give that huge amount of money himself. But I am also aware of fact that there are way of how to do it (create dummy non-profit organizations, and so on).

Non-profit organizations cannot give candidate campaigns money. They can only fund things like advertising that cannot be coordinated with the candidate campaigns. But of course rich people can do that directly. All the non-profit gives is pooling (more than one person contributing), which you don't have here; and anonymity, which you don't mention as a goal.

The easiest way for a rich person to magnify donations is to give to each and every campaign committee in all fifty states plus the national committee. They have much higher donation limits, and there are a lot of them. This works bests for major party candidates though, as the third parties don't necessarily have matching organizations.

Another trick is to have a business that gives out discretionary bonuses each year. Let it be known to your employees that you favor Jill Stein. Then increase their discretionary bonuses by the amount of any contributions that they or their spouses make. So long as you don't announce that you are doing this such that people can testify about it, this is difficult to prosecute.

But let's ignore the difficulty. Maybe you marry Stein. Then your money is her money via community property. So she can spend it all.

Limited effectiveness

Hillary Clinton is outspending all the other candidates put together by a lot. It's ridiculous how little money Donald Trump is spending. Yet Trump is not losing by a landslide. In fact, he's winning as many states as Romney even though he's not nearly as competitive in spending. This gives a sort of upper limit to the benefits of spending.

Stein also has the problem that her ideology is most attractive to a minority of US voters. Basically left-leaning independents. Unless she would moderate her stances, she would have a great deal of difficulty beating Clinton among center-left voters. Stein also has no state or federal government experience. And no executive experience of any kind.

With enough resources, Stein might be able to increase her share of the vote from 3% to, say, 20% or 30%. However, this would almost entirely come from Hillary Clinton's share. The likely result would be better relative results for Trump. If Clinton and Stein each have 30% of the vote, Trump could win with 40%.

Another possibility would be an electoral college split. If no candidate gets 270 electoral votes (a majority of 538), the vote goes to the House. Republicans do and almost certainly will have majorities in a majority of the state delegations (the vote for President is state by state with each state getting one vote). Stein has no appeal to Never Trump Republicans, so she has no chance of forming a coalition that will win in the House.

Gary Johnson

Johnson is a more likely candidate. Johnson is a former two-term governor, so he has actual executive experience in government. If the election goes to the House, Johnson does have appeal to Never Trump Republicans. Also if Democrats are left with a decision between Trump and Johnson, their demonization of Trump would make it difficult for them to vote in a way that resulted in President Trump. This gives Johnson a narrow path to victory.


A lot of the problem is less about spending and more about infrastructure. Democrats and Republicans have an infrastructure of volunteers who can help with get-out-the-vote operations. Money is only a partial substitute for this.

Democrats and Republicans also have institutional inertia. There are people who've voted for whichever party for fifty years. Even if another candidate better represents their beliefs, they may not notice.


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