In a very timely video for the Atlantic, politics writer Nora Kelly explains why third party candidates in the United States don’t do very well against their major party counterparts citing institutional requirements, less funding, media exposure and Duverger’s law
Why can’t third-parties take off? So first of all, why are there only two major parties in the U.S.? It’s been that way for a long time. According to something called Duverger’s Law in a country with winner-take-all elections like the United States, two major parties are bound to develop. Here’s why:Imagine a hypothetical winner-take-all election in which a range of parties receive part of the vote. Here, Party B wins the seat because it received the most votes, even though the majority of voters cast their ballots for other parties, against the winner. Duverger’s Law predicts that voters will see that outcome and behave strategically in subsequent elections, deserting the weakest party for more viable options. Over time, the weaker parties are squeezed out leaving behind two major parties. So, in other words: you’re not always voting for the candidate you like or the one that really represents all of your views. You’re voting against the candidate you don’t like.