What Dr. Stein lacks in name recognition, however, she is trying to make up for these days in high-energy organization and low-cost social media outreach. When she officially accepts the nomination at the Green Party’s convention this weekend in Baltimore, she will be the party’s first candidate to have qualified for federal matching funds — a milestone for this 11-year-old alternative party and potentially a major boost for a campaign that does not accept corporate donations.
The Green Party of the United States expects to be on the ballot in at least 45 states and to spend about $1 million on its campaign. At the moment, it has secured ballot access, an organizational test in itself, in 21 states, including the battlegrounds of Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Ohio, where the major party candidates, President Obama and Mitt Romney, who are raising tens of millions of dollars every month, are locked in a tight race.
While Dr. Stein barely registers a blip in national polling, experts point to Ralph Nader, the Green Party nominee in 2000, who was seen by many Democrats as siphoning just enough votes from Al Gore in one state, Florida, to tip the election toward George W. Bush, a Republican. Nationally, Mr. Nader had captured only 3 percent of the vote.
Could such a scenario unfold again?
Unlike Dr. Stein, Mr. Nader, a lifelong consumer advocate, enjoyed high name recognition. But now, more than a decade later, the Green Party has matured to the point at which Dr. Stein’s lower profile may be balanced by a more savvy political operation.