View Full Version : History of third Party Presidential Candidates

02-04-2008, 02:23 PM
Check out the wikipedia article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_party_(United_States)

This section was of particular interest to me, and sounds oddly familiar.


1856 began a transitional period in American politics. The Whig Party, which had been one-half of the two-party system since 1832 and had won the presidency in 1840 and 1848, disintegrated, fatally split by dissension over slavery. Southern Whigs and a minority of northern Whigs coalesced around the anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic American Party, better known as the "Know Nothing" movement. Their candidate was former President Millard Filmore. Northern, anti-slavery Whigs formed the new Republican Party and nominated explorer John C. Fremont. Which was the "third party", Republican or American, is a matter of perception. In the Northern, free states, Fillmore ran a distant third. However, in the Southern, slave states, the Republicans received almost no support, not even appearing on the ballot in any of the 11 states that later formed the Confederacy, not appearing on the ballot in the border slave states of Missouri or Kentucky, and receiving tiny shares of the vote in the border slave states of Delaware and Maryland. Democrat James Buchanan won the election with 45% of the popular vote and 174 electoral votes, Fremont received 33% and 114 electoral votes, while Fillmore won 22% but carried only one state, Maryland, thus winning 8 electoral votes.


By 1860 the two-party system had fallen apart. The election featured four candidates, including the breakaway Southern Democratic Party, which nominated Vice President John C. Breckenridge as its candidate, and the Constitutional Union Party, which nominated John Bell. Republican Abraham Lincoln did not appear on the ballot in any of the 11 states that seceded after the election to form the Confederacy. Breckinridge, the southern pro-slavery candidate, carried most of the slave states, but had little support in the North outside of Pennsylvania and did not appear on the ballot in three northern states. Bell and the Constitutional Union party, neutral on the slavery issue, drew most of their support from the southern former Whigs that had voted for Fillmore four years before. Stephen Douglas, the northern Democratic candidate, had the broadest support geographically but lost most of the Democratic votes in the South to Breckinridge.

Lincoln won the election with 39.8% of the overall popular vote but 180 electoral votes due to his votes being concentrated in the northern free states. Douglas finished second in the popular vote with 29.5%, but, with his votes scattered all over the country, carried only Missouri and New Jersey and won 12 electoral votes. Breckinridge, the quasi-"third party" candidate of southern Democrats, got 18.2% but won 72 electoral votes due to most of his votes being concentrated in the South. Bell, a true "third party" candidate, finished last in the popular vote with 12.6% but carried Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee to win 39 electoral votes, due to the Democratic vote in those states being split between Douglas and Breckinridge.

After this election, the two-party system coalesced around the Democratic and Republican parties.

I shudder to compare Ron Paul to Lincoln, but he *was* a third party candidate and he won the election. The current two party system is broken and it's time for a reboot.

02-04-2008, 02:35 PM
Ron would more than likely run independent, rather than third party.

The model to look at is Ross Perot's run in 1992. He was leading in the national polls, beating both Bush and Clinton, until he dropped out of the race and sabotaged himself. He had a good chance of winning, and his issues were a lot like Ron's. Perot spent about 60 million bucks, and I think we could easily raise that much. Ron has already raised about 30 million in the primary alone.