They often represent different ideologies, interests, or issues that are not well represented by the mainstream parties.
However, third parties face many challenges and disadvantages in the U.S. political system, such as ballot access laws, campaign financing rules, media coverage, and the electoral college system.
As a result, no third-party candidate has ever won the presidency, and only a few have been elected to Congress or state offices.
Some of the most active third parties in the U.S. today are:
- The Libertarian Party, which advocates for individual liberty, free markets, limited government, and non-interventionism. It is the third-largest party by membership and has ballot access in all 50 states. In 2020, it nominated Jo Jorgensen for president, who received 1.86 million votes (1.18% of the total)1
- The Green Party, which promotes environmentalism, social justice, grassroots democracy, and peace. It is the fourth-largest party by membership and has ballot access in 30 states. In 2020, it nominated Howie Hawkins for president, who received 405 thousand votes (0.26% of the total)1
- The Constitution Party, which supports the original intent of the U.S. Constitution, Christian values, states’ rights, and a strict interpretation of the law. It is the fifth-largest party by membership and has ballot access in 15 states. In 2020, it nominated Don Blankenship for president, who received 62 thousand votes (0.04% of the total)1
- The Reform Party, which was founded by Ross Perot in 1995 and advocates for political reform, fiscal responsibility, and trade protectionism. It is the sixth-largest party by membership and has ballot access in four states. In 2020, it nominated Rocky De La Fuente for president, who received 35 thousand votes (0.02% of the total)1
- The Natural Law Party, which is based on the principles of Transcendental Meditation and supports a holistic approach to health, education, and social welfare. It is the seventh-largest party by membership and has ballot access in one state. In 2020, it nominated J.R. Myers for president, who received 6 thousand votes (0.004% of the total)1
There are also many other smaller or state-based third parties that have varying degrees of activity and influence in U.S. politics. Some examples are:
- The Alliance Party, which is a centrist party that seeks to bridge the partisan divide and reform the political system.
- The American Solidarity Party, which is a Christian democratic party that supports a consistent life ethic and a distributist economic model.
- The Justice Party USA, which is a progressive party that focuses on social and economic justice, human rights, and environmental protection.
- The Party for Socialism and Liberation, which is a Marxist-Leninist party that advocates for socialism and anti-imperialism.
- The Working Families Party, which is a labor-oriented party that endorses progressive candidates from other parties or runs its own candidates.
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