Third Parties in the U.S. Political System: What External and Internal Issues Shape Public Perception of Libertarian Party/Politicians?

Jacqueline Ann Fiest, University of Texas at El Paso


The current two-party system has dominated American politics for much of history, but as voters find themselves frustrated with a limited set of choices, more are becoming open to the idea of a third-party option. According to Newsweek, 61% of people believe America needs a third major political party. That number jumps to 77% among independents (Haltiwanger, 2017). In almost every other part of American life, a variety of choices is considered a benefit. A CNN poll done in conjunction with ORC International reflected that only 5% of Americans feel the federal government in Washington DC, which overwhelmingly consists of Republicans and Democrats (with only two Independents), represents people like themselves “very well” (CNN/ORC poll results, 2016). Despite this available gap for third parties to exploit and build support among American voters, they have largely failed to do so. In my thesis, I intend to address how media has been used to spread a message that is particularly damaging to Libertarian candidates, but also can be used to help spread a new political message. Overall, I’d like to address what external and internal issues shape public perception of libertarian party/politicians, What third party or independent candidates/campaigns have been successful in the past at spreading their messages and what can we learn from that now? What have past independent or third-party candidates running for office – either successfully or unsuccessfully – found either helped or hurt them through the process? Examining these issues may help determine where third parties, specifically the Libertarian Party, have failed when it comes to connecting with American voters and where they can succeed in the future.

Subject Area

Communication|American studies|Social research|Social structure|Political science|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Fiest, Jacqueline Ann, "Third Parties in the U.S. Political System: What External and Internal Issues Shape Public Perception of Libertarian Party/Politicians?" (2019). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI13865379.