In all of American history there has never been a third party candidate elected to the presidency. The closest a third party ever came to capturing the White House was in 1912, when Teddy Roosevelt led the Bull Moose (Progressive) party. Even though he was a former president and a national hero, he was unable to break the stranglehold of the two party system.
Third parties only become major parties when one the the major parties ceases to exist, as was the case when the Republicans were created out of the Whigs. The structure of the American political system makes it impossible for a third party candidate to win the presidency, as an absolute majority of electoral votes must be won or the race is thrown into the House of Representatives. There, each state gets one vote, decided by the majority of each state’s delegation of Members of Congress.
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