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Author's Note: Top 10 Most Successful Third-party Presidential Candidates
Why does the U.S. have an Electoral College?
It might seem undemocratic to have an Electoral College in the U.S., but the Founding Fathers had some concerns about government "by the people." Read more »

As of June 2012, when I wrote this article, no third party candidate had emerged as a serious contender in the 2012 presidential election. All spotlight shined on Republican Mitt Romney and incumbent Democrat Barack Obama. But that isn't for lack of trying, particularly from a third party group called Americans Elect, which received its fair share of mainstream media attention, even though it failed to produce a viable candidate to toss his or her hat into the race.

Even though no third party candidate has won the White House since the 1850s, repeated calls for a third party that could shake up the electoral status quo in a time of dwindling presidential approval ratings and a less-than-exciting Republican candidate have come from conservatives and liberals alike. That's because, even though it doesn't necessarily show in the exit polls, American politics loves third parties and their unique brand of refocusing political conversations and debates away from the two-party platforms. Understanding how the 10 Most Successful Third Party Candidates did just that also offers case studies throughout American history of why these fleeting political groups shouldn't be written off as ineffective. Just because third parties have a tough time getting their candidates into office, doesn't mean they don't serve a valuable governmental role.

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