They never win, and likely won’t this year, but a leading polling group on politics found this election cycle has allowed a small breakthrough for third party candidates–they’re polling higher than they have in 20 years–with many American voters unsatisfied with the two major parties.
A June 29 Quinnipiac University poll, found when likely voters were asked about the possibility of third party leaders, the popularity of the two major party candidates dropped.
“Usually a potential benefit of third party candidates, even if they don’t win, is that they raise issues that are important to some voters, issues that the main parties are not addressing,” said Jan Leighley, a professor of Political Science at American University. “If the third party candidates can get the major parties/candidates to address these issues, that is an important accomplishment, even when they lose.”
Many people would like to see third parties better represented but don’t think they have a chance of getting a sufficient amount of votes.
Philip Herrera, 24, said his positions are closer to those of Green Party candidate Jill Stein, but he will vote for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in order to prevent a Donald Trump presidency, thinking Stein can’t win and believing there’s no chance for third party candidates in the current political system.
“We would need to rewrite the Constitution,” Herrera said if Americans wanted to get away from a two-party system.
Some Bernie Sanders supporters will cast their votes for Stein over Clinton, according to the Green Party’s website.
Republicans disappointed with Trump are turning to Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Johnson’s slogan on his website reads, “Make American Sane Again,” a likely knock on Trump’s platform to “Make America Great Again.”
But despite the messaging of third party candidates, polls show their chances are small.The Quinnipiac poll showed Johnson getting 8 percent of likely voters’ ballots. Although Stein is absent from the ballot in 28 states, the poll showed she would receive 4 percent.
Ross Perot, who was not affiliated with a major party, captured 18.91 percent of the vote in 1992 and 8.4 percent in 1996. Since then, a third party candidate hasn’t garnered the same amount of attention.
This year, third party candidates’ numbers are better but not enough to get people to think they have a shot at the White House.
“Third-party candidates can’t win this election,” said Chris Hartnett, a registered Independent voter who is still undecided about his November choice. “They don’t have name exposure.”
Esmat Hanano, 22, is unsatisfied with this year’s election and said none of the major candidates deserve his support. He has not, however, looked into possible third-party candidates and doesn’t know those candidates by name.
Garrett Schlichte, 21, believed third party candidates should get more attention, but won’t be getting it anytime soon. He said more parties and candidates would provide Americans with “a greater diversity of thought.”
Meg Bentley, 42, the director of biology teaching labs at American University, said the two-party system “just isn’t working.”
Although many students, faculty and staff at the Northwest Washington, D.C. campus, agree that the system could be improved with more visible third-party candidates, some say they’re a long way from taking hold of high office.
“Not anytime soon,” said Anila D’Mello, 26, of their chances.