The last third-party candidate to win one or more states was George Wallace of the American Independent Party in 1968, while Ross Perot, who ran as an independent and as the Reform Party's standard-bearer in 1992 and 1996, was the most recent third-party candidate to win more than 5.0 percent of the vote.
Wallace won 15 states and Washington, D.C. He also received nearly 400,000 votes, or 2.7 percent of the total vote, in California. The AIP is now considered a minor party.
Perot finished with 18.9 million votes, or 16.6 percent of the total vote. It was the highest percentage of any third-party candidate until Barack Obama surpassed him in 2012.
Obama went on to win two more states, giving him a total of 11 victories out of 50 states.
The first state to be called for Trump was Florida. He won this state by a margin of 1.5 million votes, or 10.7 percent of the vote.
Then Trump won North Carolina, which had been in the bag for Clinton since early in the race. She won the state by 943,000 votes, or 28.1 percent of the vote.
Trump also won Missouri, which had been expected to go to Clinton.
The Reform Party, which nominated Texas billionaire Ross Perot as its presidential candidate in 1992, was the most successful of the third parties in any one election. Perot's independent campaign for president attracted 30.9 million votes -- more than the votes received by either of the two major party candidates, George H. W. Bush or Bill Clinton.
Perot's success can be attributed to his innovative approach to campaigning and fundraising. He created a website where people could make donations online -- something that would not exist four years later when Bill Clinton launched his own web presence. Also unique to Perot's campaign is the fact that he hired young professionals as field organizers who were given small salaries but huge responsibilities. These individuals went door to door across the country building relationships with voters long before other campaigns started doing so. They also managed social media accounts for the Perot campaign.
Other third parties have emerged over time but have never been as successful as the Reform Party. The Green Party's best result has been its performance in the 2000 presidential election, when it nominee Ralph Nader drew attention from both major party candidates and helped push Clinton to support a strong energy policy. Nader received about 4 percent of the vote.
"Third parties are like bees: they perish after being stung." When he ran for the Reform Party in 1996, Ross Perot received over eight million votes. The same party received little over 5,000 votes in the previous election. The Green Party fell from 2.9 million votes in 2000 under Nader to 469,000 votes in 2012 under Stein. There were third parties in every presidential election from 1872 until 1952 when Democrats and Republicans agreed on Dwight D. Eisenhower as a unifying figure.
The two-party system is one of the most effective mechanisms we have for selecting our leaders. However many people believe that if enough votes are counted in enough states then anything is possible. This is not true. Only two candidates can win the presidency at once, so if you want someone else to win then you need to vote for them too!
In some states your vote may make a difference. In others it won't. Find out which ones before you head to the polls.
Perot received 19% of the vote in November, the biggest performance for a third-party candidate in 80 years. Following the 1992 presidential election, Perot and "United We Stand America" formed the Reform Party. In 1996, Perot campaigned for president again as the Reform Party candidate, receiving 8.5 percent of the vote.
Third-party candidates have been successful in producing unexpected results in elections before 2016. In an effort to promote electoral competition, expand voting access, and address what he called the "rigging" of the system, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader won nearly 3 million votes in 2000 despite spending only $20,000 on advertising. He drew attention to himself by putting his name on the ballot in all 50 states. His argument was that the Democratic and Republican nominees were not ideal choices, so voters had other options. By drawing attention to himself, he forced the two major-party candidates to debate each other at length for the first time in their careers.
In state and local elections, third-party candidates can make a difference by forcing candidates from both major parties to compete head to head. This may cause some minor-party candidates to lose because they do not receive enough votes to advance to the next round. But it also causes the losing candidates from both parties to battle it out in a runoff election, which is when winners are chosen. Runoff elections happen when no one receives a majority of votes in the first round of voting.
George Washington was the only president to be elected as a third-party candidate. (Image: Wikimedia Commons) This election season is heating up, thanks to hostile comment sections and scathing memes.
Ross Perot, an independent who received 19% of the vote in the 1992 election, was permitted to debate Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. Those discussions greatly increased his exposure and popularity. Four years later, in 1996, the powers-that-be ensured he was barred from participating in the discussions again.
(In the 1968 election, George Wallace received 46 electoral votes.) The Founding Fathers desired that the American federal government and its inevitable politics remain apolitical. They therefore established an indirect election process by which Congress selects the president. Each state selects a number of electors equal to the number of senators and representatives it has in Congress. These men or women then select the president based on their state's results.
The presidential election is actually a series of elections taking place in the states. In addition to the presidency, each state also selects a governor, legislators, and other officeholders. There are also local elections for mayor, city council, and similar offices. These events constitute "the political system".
Since the country's founding in 1776, only two thirds-party systems have existed at any given time. The first was from 1824 to 1856, when the Jacksonians and Anti-Masons fought each other to a standstill. The second was from 1896 to 1948, when Democrats and Republicans battled for dominance.
Of the 130 years between these two periods, 89 were dominated by one party - either Whigs or Democrats - with no significant opposition. The other 31 years saw multiple parties compete for power.