The answer to the question we pose in the title is by no means obvious. That it might be affirmative is suggested by the facts that Ross Perot:
• ran ahead of the major-party presidential candidates in several presidential preference polls at the height of his popularity in June 1992; and
• on election day in November received a higher proportion of the popular vote (19.0%) than any third-party candidate since Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 (27.4%), who came in second to Woodrow Wilson that year.
More significant than Perot's relatively large percentage, however, is that he appealed to many Republicans because of his conservative economic policies, especially with respect to reducing the budget deficit, and to many Democrats because of his liberal social views on issues like abortion.
It is precisely this kind of wide-ranging appeal that favors candidates under approval voting (AV), whereby voters can vote for as many candidates as they like or consider acceptable in a multicandi-date election. (In a three-candidate race like the 1992 presidential election, this means voting either for one's top or one's top two choices.) Yet despite extensive research on AV (Brams and Fishburn 1983), comparisons of it that have been made with other voting systems (Nurmi 1987; Merrill 1988), and empirical studies of its actual use (reviewed in Brams and Fishburn 1992), it is no easy task to establish how candidates would fare under AV in a specific election.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.