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In the News

The barriers facing third party presidential candidates

Ruth Tarrant

19th September 2016

The vast majority of the US Presidential focus is on Hillary Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R), but dig a little deeper and you'll discover the third party candidates too, including Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. There are powerful reasons why their names are not better known.

One such reason is the rule of the Commission on Presidential Debates which states that a candidate must have an average 15% approval rating in order to appear on the live televised presidential campaign debates. Neither Stein nor Johnson have quite that level of support, despite third parties doing slightly better on the whole than they have for some time in the US.

The nonpartisan Commission reviewed five polls and took an average of each candidate's standing, determining average poll numbers to Clinton on 43%, Trump with 40.4%, Johnson on 8.4%, and Stein on 3.2%, thus denying Stein and Johnson the chance to appear alongside the two main candidates. With Clinton and Trump virtually neck-and-neck in the polls, a little movement towards third party candidates could easily influence the election results.

Ruth Tarrant

Ruth has been an enthusiastic Head of Economics and Politics for many years, having taught in a variety of schools and at university level. She is also a Senior Examiner. Ruth is passionate about boosting the quality of teaching and learning across all subjects in schools and colleges.

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