Third party candidates struggle to gain traction - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Third party candidates struggle to gain traction

Source: WFXG File Source: WFXG File

The polls have Clinton and Trump neck and neck as we head into election day.

But, what about the other presidential candidates that you'll see on the ballot?

Since the 1800's, the names may have changed, but it's always been head-to-head battles between two parties.

With two of the most unpopular candidates in modern history running for the presidency, a lot of voters are frustrated and wondering how our system got to this point.

"You've got really a bunch of different factors that come together and make it almost impossible for third party candidates to prevail and compete in any meaningful way," said Gregg Murray. 

Murray is the chair of the political science department at Augusta University.

He tells Fox 54 that those factors include needing an average of 15% of the votes to compete in a general election stage, and having to match a certain amount of money before gaining access to federal campaign funds.

Murray said that leaves dissatisfied voters with a tough pill to swallow.

"People who really believe in their message have to weigh whether it's more important to vote according to that message and someone they support policy wise, or vote for one of the two major party candidates-one of whom will end up being the president of the United States," said Murray.

The last time a third party candidate gained major traction was in 1992 when Ross Perot ran on reducing the federal deficit. But, once the major parties incorporated that into their agendas, it left little room for him to compete--peaking at 19% of the vote.

A recent Gallup Poll found that 57% of Americans feel like it's time to embrace a third party as a major contender.

Murray said, "The more candidates, the more competition, the better off we are."

And for the rest of the world, that wouldn't be out of the norm.

Our neighbors to the north and south both operate under multi-party governments.

But, Murray said that framework is unlikely to happen here unless the folks responsible for making the laws decide that it's time to overhaul the process leading up to election day.

"People are really dissatisfied this year. And I suspect we're going to continue wrestling with it until there's some sort of major shift in the way we deal with elections," said Murray.

Another thing to keep in mind is that third party candidates don't always make it on to the ballots.

For example, South Carolina has seven presidential candidates, while there are only three in Georgia.

But, that doesn't mean you cant write in the name of the candidate that you would like to cast your ballot for. 

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