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Discuss the view that third parties are doomed to fail 
Third parties in the USA face many difficulties during election times and when they
are promoting their party during office years. There are eight main areas they face
these difficulties, for example the electoral system, matching-funds, ballot access,
lack of resources, lack of media coverage, lack of well known/well experienced
candidates, ideological reasons and co-optation.
The electoral system heavily adds to the argument that third parties are doomed.
This is because of the First Past The Post winner-takes-all system that makes it
difficult for the third parties to pick up seats on a national scale. The simple
majority system tends to result in a strict two party system, hence the Republican
or Democrat led government since 1853, whereas proportional representation
would result in more spread out support and favour a multi-party system
resulting in more coalitions. Regional third parties do better than national third
parties with this system. In 1968, George Wallace gained 13% of the electoral
system and 46 Electoral College votes, but these were mostly gained in southern
states. In contrast, Ross Perot in 1992 gained 19% of the popular vote and yet no
Electoral College votes.
A further reason many believe third parties are doomed to fail is that of
`matching-funds.' Typically third parties, because of their smaller status and
support have less income and donations than the Republican and Democrat parties.
To qualify for matching funds a party must raise at least $5,000, with at least $250
from each state, this is easy for the two main parties but less so for a third party.
However, even more difficult is the rule that the party must also achieve at least
5% of the vote in the previous general election. This is very rare for third parties to
achieve, although Wallace 1968, Anderson 1920 and Perot 1992 and 1996 have done
it. However, like Anderson's, most third parties are not existent for all the elections,
they are `here one election, gone the next.' Thus explaining why when Perot
received almost 1/5 of the vote in 1992 he did not qualify but when Buchanan in
2000 did despite winning less than 1 in 100 votes.
The issue of ballot access is a further obstacle for third parties to overcome. In
Tennessee to get on the ballot you need a petition of just 25 signatures, which led in
2008 to 6 third party candidates being on the ballot for the Senate. However, it is
more difficult in states such as California who require signatures of at least 1% of
the state electorate, and New York who requires a certain number of signatures
from each county. Anderson knew that in 1980 he would need at least 1.2 million
signatures to appear on the ballot in each state, which would cost him $3million,
this being difficult due to the previously mentioned `matching-funds' issue.
Furthermore, there is an obstacle of lacking resources that faces third parties. Due
to the lack of matching funds third parties have little resources to campaign for
support, especially due to most of it being spent on ballot access. Also, people are
unlikely to put needed money into third parties that are unlikely to win, as it would
be a waste. Ashbee said in a 2003 `Politics Review' that major parties have a
`catch-all' character that minor parties lack, and therefore people would be less
reluctant to donate to a main party closest to their own views than risk it on a more
closely linked third party.
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A third party's lack of media coverage also `dooms' it. In the 21st century most
information is received through the media and technology so if a third party is not
well represented if represented at all then people are unlikely to support it. TV
adverts and broadcasts are too expensive for third parties and they rarely make it
onto TV debates.…read more