The concept of a spoiler candidate is strange to me – it seems politicians blame voters for preferring someone else, when it's their job to build a coalition that gives them power. But with all this talk about Howard Schultz, socially-liberal and fiscally-conservative voters again get the short end of the stick in most of the media, being blamed for not liking major political party candidates.

Let's set aside how their opponents across the aisle also don't like their preferred candidate, so why are they treated differently? I think people just assume the only people you can persuade are independents and third party voters, so they get angry at those very same voters when they fail in their persuasion. I think this is a bit of a social oopsie, but not a devastating mistake.

The real question is – without that candidate, what would we have seen in the election? Obviously, you can't change the campaigning itself, the persuasion process is completely opaque, so all you can ask is, who was your second choice? Ross Perot took votes from both sides equally, and it's probable Gary Johnson appealed more to would-be Trump voters than would-be Clinton voters. A re-election campaign for Donald Trump would face the same factors (but magnified, given how much more moderate he is) in Howard Schultz. Good news for Democrats, if you like plurality psuedo-consensus over explicit coalition building.

In the end, as I've said for a long time, the best thing to do is choose your most preferred candidate on the ballot. You want to signal to people who will run the next time how they can pander to you, and make a choice you feel comfortable with at the same time. There's no reason to pretend us citizens have any more skin in the game than that.