Why may it not be totally accurate to describe the USA as having a two-party system? (10 marks)


A two-party system is usually defined when two parties regularly win 80% or more of the vote or control the executive alternately. This is more complicated in the US though, due to federalism and mass party ideologies. At first glance the USA can be seen to have a two-party system, there hasn’t been a independent president since 1853 and in average the main two parties receive 95% of the vote in elections. However, this cannot be seen as fully accurate since third parties also play a role in party politics. Party divisions can turn the US into a 100 party system and state decentralisation from federal government can turn states into a one-party system.

Third parties in the past have offered voters more choice than the main two parties. The Green Party, Reform Party and American Independence Party have all shown a degree of success in certain elections throughout the period. The fact that these parties exist and do receive votes, shows that the two-party system cannot be fully seen in the US. Independents have also had impacts with Ross Perot winning 19% in


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