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