IRV allows you to vote third party, and have your vote still count. Also, it gives third party candidates serious negotiating power. A third party candidate may not have the votes to WIN and election, but if they promise the mainstream candidate the second place vote of all supporters they can force that candidate to support their top issue, i.e. single payer healthcare.
SDR makes it easier for people who move often to vote. Jesse Ventura was elected to state-wide office in a state that has SDR.
Here is an interesting paper on campaign finance reform that I turned up on Google. Haven't read through it, but it seems to say that campaign finance reform laws also played a large part in Ventura's third party success.
I think are right about IRV. I am a strong supporter of third parties, but we need to change the structure of elections before we can make them a viable choice. And neither party wants to see that. At the end of the day, they are invested in maintaining their own power, not sharing it with others, even if the current system is strangling our democracy.
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