Is this the year the third-party candidate breaks through?

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There's a Lot in the Way of a Third Party Winning the White House

This year there's been a lot of hype around the Libertarian party and its newly-minted nominee Gary Johnson as some key indicators suggest he could have a bigger impact on the election than third-party candidates have recently.

The Democrats' and Republicans' two front-runners have historically low favorability ratings. Johnson has recently been polling around 10 percent, a larger percentage of Americans than usual has said they would like to see a third-party candidate.

See Gary Johnson through the years:

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Gary Johnson through the years
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Is this the year the third-party candidate breaks through?
UNITED STATES - MARCH 3: Gov. Gary Johnson, former Governor of NM, speaks at the American Conservative Union's CPAC conference at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md., on Thursday, March 3, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 26: Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson pretends to have a heart attack on stage while arguing in favor of legalization of marijuana during CPAC in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 26, 2015. Former Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-N.Y., not pictured, had just argued during their debate that marijuana caused an increased risk of heart attacks. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 22: Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson speaks in the Fox News/Google GOP Debate at the Orange County Convention Center on September 22, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. The debate featured the nine Republican candidates two days before the Florida straw poll. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
File-This Nov. 3, 2011 file photo shows former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson addressing the 2011 Drug Policy Alliance conference in Los Angeles. On Tuesday, July 1, 2014 it was announced that Johnson had been named the CEO of a Nevada-based company that hopes to make medical and recreational marijuana products. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate for president, addresses an audience of students and the public at Macalester College, Friday, Sept. 21, 2012 in St. Paul, Minn. Johnson, a former two-term New Mexico governor, is on a nationwide college tour as part of his campaign for president. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Republican presidential candidates, from left, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, prepare prior to a debate Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
FILE - In this Sept 23, 2011 file-pool photo, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson speaks in Orlando, Fla. The Libertarian Johnson is running for president a second time after winning more than a million votes in 2012. (AP Photo/Joe Burbank, Pool, File)
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson announces his plans to seek the Republican nomination for president in front of the Statehouse Thursday, April 21, 2011 in Concord, N.H. Gov. Johnson says he has the resume needed to lead the country. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, shown at the Inn of Loretto, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 1999, in Santa Fe, N.M. Insurance companies that back a ``no pay, no play'' proposal, promoted by Gov. Gary Johnson, say they would save money if uninsured drivers were barred from making big claims. Under the legislation, insurance companies would be required to file new rates taking into account their anticipated savings from the new law in August. (AP Photo/Laura Husar)
Texas Gov. George W. Bush, left, makes a joke about the first time he met New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, right, as he addresses a crowd at a barbecue June 19, 1998, in support of Johnson's re-election campaign in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP Photo/Jake Schoellkopf)
New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson enters the Roswell Convention Center Thursday, July 3, 1997 surrounded by aliens. The governor and his family visited Roswell to participate in the 50th anniversary celebration of eth Roswell incident.(AP Photo/Susan Sterner)
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That has a lot of Libertarians pretty excited, and while Johnson has a chance to change the outcome of the race, the deck is pretty stacked against third party candidates winning the White House.

Financially, the Libertarians are not even in the same league as the other candidates. Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have raised and spent millions of dollars. Gary Johnson's net contributions on his FEC filing from the last period were just $293,125.

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He has $14,924 on hand, compared to Trump's $2.4 million, Clinton's $30.2 million and Sanders' $5.8 million.

The other challenge will be getting on the ballot. Third parties don't have the nationwide organizing infrastructure the Democrats and Republicans have to help collect the signatures needed to appear on the ballot in each state.

Even if Johnson or another third party candidate does do well, throughout history, even successful third party runs just took votes from one of the main parties.

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In 1912 when Teddy Roosevelt created the Bull Moose Party, he ended up getting about 30 percent of the vote, which ended up splitting the Republican vote and pushing Democrat Woodrow Wilson to win the election. Ross Perot's independent run in 1992 is often pointed to as a reason George H.W. Bush wasn't re-elected.

Libertarians understand their chances are low, but anything that gets their party and their ideas more exposure is a win in their books.

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