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Why nothing has changed in America’s two-party system

New York Evan McMullin could do something extraordinary in Utah. McMullin was recently embroiled in a U.S. Senate race against Republican Mike Lee. He now trails Lee by only a few percentage points in the polls. Special point: McMullin is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. He is an independent candidate.

The former Republican is trying to woo voters with bad news. He wants to stop the division in the country and above all, he wants to take care of economic matters – But it is not necessary to answer any of the parties’ questions. That may go down well with voters: More than half of Americans prefer a third party, and 40 percent think the major parties are doing well this year as of September, according to data from polling firm Gallup.

Running as an independent candidate against the mainstream parties is a tough road in the bipartisan American political system. This is mainly due to two characteristics of the American electoral system, explains Mark Siegel, professor of global affairs at New York University. On the one hand, the principle of “first past the post” determines elections for seats in the Senate or House of Representatives. The person with the majority of votes for a seat goes to one of the two houses of Congress. There is no seat allocation based on vote percentage.

In the election of the US president, the electoral system favors a two-party landscape: the party with the most votes usually wins all the electors in a state, who elect the president and vice president. Here again, majority rule is decisive, not distribution.

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The second aspect is voter behavior, Siegel explains. Voters are “reluctant to waste their votes”. So they want to choose the party that is most likely to win a majority in a state – usually the Democrats or the Republicans.

Newly established parties have a tough time

The current Senate already has two independent senators: Bernie Sanders and Angus King. However, both are Democrats and have chosen to change their voting behavior. McMullin, on the other hand, has already announced that he does not want to join any faction.

Evan McMullin

Independent candidate wants to be senator from Utah.

(Photo: AP)

Efforts to found new parties aside from independent candidates continue to be made in the United States. The most popular are the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, and the Constitution Party. However, all operate in only a portion of the 50 states.

A new beginning is “forward”. Its founders David Jolly, Christine Todd Whitman and Andrew Yang are optimistic. Your guest article in The Washington Post, In it they pitched their new party in July: “Most third parties have failed. Why we will not fail”. However, in the meantime, when the election campaign in the United States is in full swing, the Forward has gone quiet. Journalists and observers attest that the party’s chances of victory are low.

However, the data shows that younger voters in particular are less likely to commit themselves to party affiliation. Party affiliation does not describe joining a party, but rather an officially documented electoral preference. To participate in elections in the states is called voter registration. In this case, voters can also choose a side: blue or red.

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There is also the option to register “independently” – something that young people in particular are increasingly aware of. More than half of millennials are registered independent voters, and the trend is increasing. The birth rate this year was 33 percent.

Two party system divides not only the politics but also the people in the country. A poll conducted by the polling firm Pew Research found that supporters of one party are not only critical of the policies of the other party, but also of members of that party.

For example, 62 percent of Republicans think Democratic Americans are lazy, a growing trend. In 2016, it was 46 percent. 83 percent of Democrats view Republican supporters as narrow-minded.

Further: New American Party “Forward” – Andrew Young Campaigns for Votes with Democrats and Republicans