Hey fellow political sim junkies (kind of a specific subset of gamers, eh?), Jay Vaughn here. Over the past few weeks, I and many others made some suggestions about multiple campaigns and TPM '08 candidates in TPM '12 and these two issues are largely being worked on or have been resolved in different ways, whether through mods or the possibility of future game updates to support multiple campaigns. I couldn't be happier and I thank the good folks at Stardock as well as our dedicated mod community (read: Zubaz and redarrow141, respectively, not to minimize anyone else's efforts) for taking steps to see these ideas come to fruition.
That leads me to my other idea that is slightly more esoteric and not received as much exposure or support. Simulation mode! Stardock has said that when they play the game as close to reality as possible, the algorithms behind the game very closely predict the outcomes of the presidential races.
"Stardock CEO Brad Wardell says that in his tests, prior Political Machines have very closely predicted the outcome of the last two presidential elections, though in 2004 it missed by handing Ohio (and thus the presidency) to John Kerry. Bush's margin of victory there was a very tight 2.11% (according to Wikipedia), so that still ain't bad." http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/the-political-machine-2012/1222162p1.html?RSSwhen2012-04-02_145000
Stardock CEO and President Brad Wardell stated, "The algorithms involved in this simulator are frighteningly accurate. When playing the game as true to reality as possible, the last two presidential election results came very close to what the game ultimately predicted."
So, I thought it would be interesting to test the game while taking the human element out of it. A CPU vs. CPU mode would be very entertaining for a guy like me, to test this mostly-proven system of algorithms against the candidates and parties as I watch the nation's map change before my very eyes. I'm sure there are a few programming hurdles to jump when having two CPU candidates battle it out across the map, but I bet they can be overcome without too much collateral damage. If nothing else, I'd simply like to see the algorithms run and skip right to "Election Night" just to watch the results of a possible election between, say, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney or maybe Dennis Kucinich and Donald Trump. The possibilities are fun to imagine.
This brings me another possibility that people are positively chomping at the bit to see: that of a third party candidate. I imagine that with the possibilty of two CPU opponents sucessfully running against each other, a third player-controlled one wouldn't be that much of a stretch. The "Independent" voters in gray that you see are, in fact, a political party that is "inactive" within the game's mechanics. While there are surely some issues involved with making that an active political party for a three-way battle for the White House, attempting to turn a state gray might not pose too many problems if handled well.
What this also does is remove the need to add multiple political parties or identify a possible third party candidate's myriad of political party choices, instead having the game refer to said candidate as an Independent candidate, as media tends to do to third parties, anyway. And after all, for a third party candidate to actually be successful, they're going to have to depend on getting independents to vote for them, cashing in on those voters who are sick and tired of the shenanigans of the two big players, and as your potential speeches and so forth affect all parties' perception of your candidate, I think a 3-horse race could be a viable option with some work. Yes, they might not get as much air time on talk shows as the main party candidates and, yes, endorsements might be a steeper climb for independents, but that's all part of the game; all part of The Political Machine.
Anyway, that's my bit on the idea of a simulation mode and the possibility of a third party candidate. Hope my fellow players can add their two cents to these ideas, as well as interested modders and (especially) those closely associated with Stardock!
I'm Jay Vaughn, and I approve this message.