Why do you consider voting for a third party a protest? I'm not doing it to protest, I'm voting for who I think would be the best president. Earlier in our discussion it seems we both established that voting for Obama or Romney is not going to change anything either since Obama is almost certainly going to win New Jersey. So if we say voting third party isn't going to make a difference then we just covered everybody and came to the conclusion that at the end of the day it doesn't matter who we vote for, so why not vote for the candidate you believe in the most?
I still completely disagree that changing ballot access laws, election formats, etc. would have no difference on third parties. I almost never hear anyone say they prefer a Democrat or Republican over a third party candidate. Almost all of the time, their reasons for voting for Democrats or Republicans is because the third party candidates "won't win" and they don't want to "waste" their vote. If we had range voting there would be no such thing because they could support third party candidates as well as a major party candidate at the same time, so as long as every candidate had the ability to get their message out there, I don't see any reason why people wouldn't start considering to support them. You disagree with this, but there isn't really any way for us to prove one another wrong so oh well let's move on.
As far as third party strategy, what I would like to see happen is all the third parties and independent unite into one Clean Elections Party whose sole purpose is cleaning up elections. After they enact that kind of legislation they can then split into the Green Party, Libertarian Party, etc. I think with the way it is they are splitting the third party vote even thinner than it already is and it just makes things harder for themselves. I also think they need to work on a decades-long process starting with winning elections at the local level and eventually working their way up to the state level and federal level. It is more likely for them to win local elections, especially in elections where there is normally only one candidate on the ballot, or like what we had in 2009 when Daggett did so well--an unpopular incumbent running against a party that usually doesn't do so well in that state/municipality.
As for the Nader spoiler issue, many people assume that all of Nader's voters would have voted for Gore and that is why he cost him the election. According to exit polls, less than half would have voted for Gore, a pretty sizeable chunk (I think it was something like 30%) would have voted for Bush, and another pretty good chunk would have just stayed home.
Seems to me that third-party support or lack thereof is an interesting cultural and psychological issue. It just isn't something that's going to be resolved with any kind of law, or at least a law that the Constitution would permit.