Today more people are rejecting party identification and registering as independents. Is it possible for a serious third party to emerge in the United States, positioned ideologically between the Democrats on the left and the Republicans on the right? How about on the fringe of either the left or right? Why or why not?

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It is certainly possible and historically has happened. However, an independent candidate winning a national election is a virtual impossibility. The last presidential candidate to win more than 5% of American votes as an independent was Ross Perot, who ran in the 1992 presidential election. He was centered between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Perot was a billionaire businessman and an outspoken critic of both political parties. Many political scientists credit Clinton's win over Bush as the result of Perot taking votes that may have been cast for the Republican if Perot had not mounted a campaign. Perot garnered nearly 19% of the popular vote (no electoral votes), with much of his support coming from states that traditionally voted Republican. Perot would run again in 1996 but would only receive about 8% of the popular vote. Ralph Nader would run as an independent in 2000, getting about 5% of the vote. No credible independents ran again until the year 2016, when a number of...

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