Why Third Party Processes Are Infrequent in the United States

Why Third Party Processes Are Infrequent in the United States


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Why Third Party Processes Are Infrequent in the United States

The United States is a two-party electoral system where two main political parties (the Democratic Party and the Republican Party) dominate voting in all three levels of government. A third party is the third political party in the United States apart from the other two main parties. Third parties hardly ever win elections in the United States however, they regularly influence national politics through drawing attention to the people on matters that previous major political parties neglected. Even though citizens may feel that the current two-party system, unfortunately, little can be done as the Constitution renders third-party unviable. This does not mean there are no other ways of improving politics without disrupting a system that has balanced well for over 200 years.

The reason why third party political party processes have been so infrequent on the American political scene is the requirement of the president having an absolute vote in the Electoral College. This necessity is what makes third parties unviable in the United States. In reality, a third party can never elect a president. This is only attainable if the president is elected via plurality of Electoral College or popular vote. It is important to note that it is extremely difficult for third party to stay consistently competitive at the local and state level without the possibility of producing a president elect. The problem of third political parties is further exacerbated by barriers such as restrictive ballot laws put in place by the ruling parties to frustrate them and protect de facto monopoly. Another reason why third political parties have declined in the political scenes is that the expansion of the federal government of the 20th century snuffed out inactive third parties from the previous centuries. There were concerns about elections which made it hard for voters to support parties with local focus only. Even so, the ruling parties strived to co opt third-party issues and push supporters towards membership.

From my standpoint, the dwindling future of third political party can only be rescued by political reforms. I feel that this would be the only way to address the elimination of the Electoral College requirement. A reform means changing the Constitution, which means that another constitutional reform would need to take place. I think this is a bit far-fetched although it is not impossible. If only the two ruling parties (Democratic Party and Republican Party) would ease ballot access laws and allow fusion voting, then third parties would stand a chance at electing a president.


Macansantos, Priscilla S. “Modeling Dynamics of Political Parties with Poaching from One Party.” In Journal of Physics: Conference Series, vol. 1593, no. 1, p. 012013. IOP Publishing, 2020.

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