The Effect of Third Party Candidates in Presidential Elections

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The Effect of Third Party Candidates in Presidential Elections

By | October 1999
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The Effect of Third Party Candidates in Presidential Elections

Although citizens of the United States have the opportunity to vote for many different offices at the national, state, and local levels, the election of the president of the United States every four years is the focal point of the American political process. The American political system has maintained a two- party system since its inception. Political scientists argue that a two-party system is the most stable and efficient means of running a democratic nation as a mono-party system leads toward tyranny, and a multi-party system creates over- diversification and gridlock (Mazmanian 6). The Constitution of the United States does not in any way limit the structure of the political system to two parties. In fact, there has been no presidential election where there were only two candidates; however, third-party candidates are rarely represented in a majority of the states, and those that were on the ballot in a majority of states have never been successful. However, on a few occasions, third party candidates have been able to make a significant impact on the presidential election process such as George Wallace in 1968 and H. Ross Perot in 1992. Through nineteenth century there was little deviation from the traditional two-party system. Until then, political candidates were utterly dependent upon

the political infrastructure of an established party for their campaigns. Until the development of mass media technologies, including radio and television, political candidates had no direct means of communicating with the public and were thus dependent

on the communications systems of the major parties. Thus,
third party movements lacked the capabilities to run an effective campaign against the major parties.
However, mass media has changed the scope of the election process and brought about the demise of the major political parties (Robinson 147). Candidates who run a television...

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