Two Party System with Third Party Problems

Bar graph showing 85% Hillary Clinton, 65% Donald Trump, 9% Gary Johnson, 5% Jil Stein, 25% Undecided, 5% Other. In regards to the title: "William Peace Election Poll"

By Mary Kuberry

The 2016 presidential election was full of controversy over the two leading candidates from the Democrat and Republican parties.

Many voters were wary of voting for either candidate and yet the third-party candidates still could not seem to gain any steam.

Alongside the infamous candidates, Hillary Clinton and President-elect Donald Trump, were Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and even lesser known Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Per the most recent results from CNN the third-party candidates managed to pull in about 4 percent of the popular vote.

William Peace University informal election polls before the election were on par with national polls predicting around 10 percent of the vote going to third-party candidates, but why were these numbers not higher?

“I don’t think [the voters] think they could get into office,” said sophomore Marvin Bruinton.“Third parties don’t have a history of winning.”

Many other students around the Peace campus agreed with Bruinton and  did not think that a third-party candidate could generate enough support to win a national election.

“I feel like [my vote] would be wasted, there is no point,” said senior Cameron Ford.

A lack of knowledge of who the third party candidates are and what they stand for may also be a leading contributor to their low polling numbers. Out of 30 students at William Peace who were questioned about the third party candidates less than half could name one of the candidates. Only one student was able to identify Jill Stein as a presidential candidate while Gary Johnson was slightly more well-known.

Students knew Gary Johnson mostly due to his progressive marijuana legalization laws like Janae Hankins who supports legalization for the health benefits.

“I don’t think it would be a bad thing at all if he won and got that law passed,” said Hankins.

Other sentiments from students include that this election was going to be rigged or that the other candidates were just too powerful to allow for a third-party candidate to win.

“In this election it is almost pointless, almost,” said sophomore Natalie Arthur.

Although the third-party candidates were able to receive an impressive percentage of the popular vote, none were close to winning an electoral college vote which are required to win the Presidency.

“I expected third party candidates to actually have a chance in winning but you can’t change it now,” said Hankins.

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