Third Party and Independent Candidates

Libertarian  |  Green  |  Constitution  |  Independent  |  Americans Elect
The presence of a credible third party or independent candidate in a general election campaign makes for a much more interesting and unpredictable race.  However, third party candidates face huge barriers including unequal ballot access requirements (+), difficulty recruiting credible candidates, difficulty raising money, and difficulty attracting media attention.  In recent election, cycles third party nominees have typically been little known or unknown and had scant impact.  Ross Perot did significantly affect the 1992 and 1996 campaigns.  More recently Ralph Nader has been the most well-known alternative candidate; running as an independent he obtained just 0.56% of the vote in 2008 and 0.38% in 2004.  [See also: Third Parties]

If the Obama-Romney general election campaign turns off voters, there will be other choices on the ballot.  

Constitution Party - April 18-21, 2012 in Nashville, TN.
Libertarian Party - May 2-6, 2012 in Las Vegas, NV.
Americans Elect - June 12 (and if needed June 19 and 26)
Green Party - July 12-15, 2012 in Baltimore, MD.

-The Constitution Party chose former Congressman Virgil Goode of Virginia as its nominee, and Pennsylvanian Jim Clymer as his running mate. 

-The Libertarian Party selected as its ticket former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico and Jim Gray, a former Judge of the California Superior Court of Orange County. 

-Greens nominated Dr. Jill Stein, a physician from Lexington, Massachusetts who ran for governor against Mitt Romney, and Cheri Honkala, founder and national coordinator of Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign in Philadelphia.

Other campaigns on the ballot in a significant number of states include:

-The Justice Party ticket of Rocky Anderson and Luis Rodriguez appears on the ballot in 15 states totalling 145 electoral votes.

-The Party for Socialism and Liberation ticket of Peta Lindsay and Yari Osorio appears on the ballot in 13 states totalling 146 electoral votes.

There are many others.  See the list at

Third party candidates face the huge hurdles, starting with the onerous challenge of meeting ballot access requirements in the 50 states.  They are excluded from the fall presidential debates on the grounds that they do not meet a 15-percent polling threshhold.  In contrast to the hundreds of millions of dollars raised and spent by the major party campaigns, they have very limited resources.

Finally mention must be made of Americans Elect, which sought to provide a credible third choice on the ballot in all 50 states but ended up as a footnote.  By May 16, 2012 Americans Elect had achieved ballot access in 29 states (+).  However, the group was not able to attract a big-name candidate.  The most prominent figures to seek the Americans Elect nomination were former Gov. Buddy Roemer (LA) and former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson.  On May 17 Americans Elect  announced that its primary process had concluded without a qualified candidate.