This blog originally appeared on The Huffington Post‘s website on 8/24/2011 under a different title. This older blog discussed “successful” 3rd parties of the past, while considering the possibility of a strong 3rd party run in the 2012 election, including by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. I have decided to update this blog to reflect the 2016 election.
The 1912 election is the high-watermark of 3rd party runs. In this election, our traditional parties competed with two strong 3rd parties — the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party and the Socialist Party, both of which make the top 10 list.
To the present day, ten third party candidates have shown some strength in the polls in presidential elections. However, each fought against insurmountable odds. While they had little chance of victory, they often did enough to change the course of the election.
In truth, in this period, Roosevelt in 1912 and Perot in 1992 probably had the only chances of winning an election if they had attained enough electoral votes to send the decision to the House.
Looking at the 2016 election, there has been discussion of a possible Trump third party run or an establishment Republican third party run, depending on whoever gets the Republican nomination. Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has recently decided against running as an independent candidate. A conservative 3rd party will ensure a Democratic victory for the third time.
Here are the top 10 3rd party candidates since 1912: