Would a 3rd party steal Obama’s thunder for 2012? Or would it just be an asterisk?

I caught on the Maddow Show that a former mayor in Utah wants to run on the “Justice Party” ticket. It sounds like the party, which doesn’t have a website yet, would craft itself along the lines of the Occupy Movement, and focus on the fact that the Elites of this country are above the law and never held to account for their various acts of malfeasance.

Third parties in America always promise a breath of fresh air–or someone who will drill a single issue with a strong effort–but they always end up as also rans. 1912, 1948, 1968, 1980, 1992, 1996. It was only the first in that list (1912), and the third (1968), where the guy even won any states, if I have my history right.

American presidential elections are BY STATE. This means, you are running to get a majority–or the largest plurality in a 3 way–for a particular state. Then, you must win enough states to get 270 electors. (Each state has a set number of electors, based on population, with an additional 2 thrown in, representing the senators.)

Say the former mayor of Salt Lake City gets in, and he manages to win Utah, with its five or however many electors. About all the could do is make it harder for one of the two major parties’ candidates to get the 270 electors.

If no candidate gets the 270, it goes to the House of Representatives, where the newly elected Congress decides who gets to be President. (In that election, each state delegation gets one vote.)

So, you see, the only real value a third party candidate has is in bollixing it for some other guy. Only situations like Ross Perot, where his focus was on the federal deficit, seem to keep the parties’ divisions about the same, yet change the dialogue a bit. Maybe this is what the Justice Party is after for 2012.