Why Democrats And Republicans Will Not Allow Third-Party Candidates In Debates


Many establishment Republicans and Democrats like to argue that third-party candidates are not usually included in the major televised Presidential debates because there simply aren’t enough Americans interested in hearing about alternatives to the two-party political solutions. But a study from the University of Michigan suggests that the major political parties have a real interest in keeping third-party candidates off the stage because “apathetic or ambivalent voters” tend to pick a candidate based heavily on televised debate performance.

“Viewing debates significantly increased polarization among those who go into the debate with very little candidate preference or attitude and have no strong opinions either way,” said Ben Warner, assistant professor of communication who studies political conversation at MU. “The good thing is we feel that moderates make up the group of voters that needs to shift toward one candidate or another.”

Researchers surveyed potential voters who viewed the debates in the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections as well as the Vice Presidential debates in 2008 and 2012 to determine how political attitudes changed pre- and post-debate.

Those who strongly supported a particular candidate going in to the debates usually exhibited little change in preference, according to the research. But moderates and other voters with no strong preference usually picked a candidate based heavily on the performance of the debaters.

“Despite the white noise of social networks and media, debates truly do make a difference because they are the single biggest electoral event with the largest audience. Because both sides have equal time to make their cases, debates are the most balanced message voters receive over the course of a campaign,” Warner said. “If debates move more moderates into the conversation and help get them more engaged in the political process that’s a positive thing because it dilutes the vitriol usually associated with the electoral conversation.”

Unfortunately, since 2000, the Republican- and Democratic-controlled Commission on Presidential Debates has required that candidates reach 15 percent in national polls to participate in the Presidential debates. Without the massive corporate campaign funding and media focus afforded to the major Party candidates leading up to the debates, the threshold is almost always exclusionary to outsiders who, according to the aforementioned study, could sweep up supporters by simply winning over moderates while sharing the stage with the mainstream candidates.

To learn more about how Democrats and Republicans unfairly control the debates, visit Open Debates.

Personal Liberty

Sam Rolley

Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After covering community news and politics, Rolley took a position at Personal Liberty Media Group where could better hone his focus on his true passions: national politics and liberty issues. In his daily columns and reports, Rolley works to help readers understand which lies are perpetuated by the mainstream media and to stay on top of issues ignored by more conventional media outlets.

Join the Discussion

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.

  • Muffin Man Mashinksy

    If there is any doubt that we have the 2-party mafia running things this should put an end to it! The only way to get a viable 3rd party is to have it backed by tons of money, but of course, that might corrupt it right from the start!

  • JimH

    Ross Perot showed the 2 party system what could happen when”outsiders” get a fair chance. It won’t happen again, if they have their way.
    That is also why the Electoral College will stay. The last time an independent took a state was in 1968. George Wallace took 4 of them. To go to popular vote would open the door to third party voting.

    • Muffin Man Mashinksy

      Even if 3rd party people can’t win, they used to bring up topics that may never have come up & held the main bozos feet to the fire many times…growing up I seemed to always go for them…When The League of Women Voters ran the debates, they always included 3rd party candidates, now it is all so scripted, reminds me of pro wrestling, and just as inane!

      • JimH

        I agree. A third party can throw a monkey wrench into that prepared propaganda fest. The candidate would have to understand and explain their position on an issue. Information is power and the powerful don’t want us to have it.

    • Michael Shreve

      It would open the door to NO REPRESENTATION for rural populations.

      • JimH

        Michael, Please explain. How would rural populations loss representation using the popular vote.

        • Michael Shreve

          Where DO the majority live? The POPULAR vote means ONE CITY can decide a state.

          • JimH

            I understand, Cook County has half of the state of Il-anoy’s population. Even with electoral vote Chicago (with their grave yards)pretty much decide who gets the whole states electoral votes. With popular vote across the whole country, where no one has to take the state, including a third party, it has the chance of leveling out some of those voting patterns. The rest of Illinois could be a red state if they could secede from the great state of Chicago. It would be interesting to see what would happen.

          • Michael Shreve

            The POPULATION of the cities (nearly all Democrats) would be able to decide the politics of the nation. Add up the population of the cities that VOTE Democrat.

          • JimH

            The Electoral College isn’t going away.(who wants to campaign in Montana for their 2 electoral votes) If the cities give the whole state to a Democrat, other Dem cities dominate across the country in a pure popular vote the result is the same. Instead if all the other counties in Illinois voted red, The Dems would only get Crook county and not the whole states electoral votes. If you add those to the rural vote of the 50 other states and the small % that don’t vote Dem in the city and the western states it may have a different result. Add to it the discouraged voters that don’t try because their states electoral vote just go to a certain party, they may try again. When only 20% of voters turn out(except for Chicago, with 132% turnout) there is an untapped source. It’s all speculation any way.
            Just something to have some fun with thinking about it.

      • Evelyn Sue Enderle

        so, it could be the total vote, not the state vote.

  • SSMcDonald

    Third Party Candidates are not allowed UNLESS the behind-the-scenes power manipulators believe a third party candidate will advance their agenda for control. And these same power brokers totally control the media, used to sway the unintelligent public to accept what the power brokers have pre-decided.

  • scott miller

    They should not even call the dog and pony show they put on as a debate there is no debate to be had, they do not discuss ideas, they pre approve questions, set rules on things that cannot be discussed or limit the time they can be discussed.

    “debates” are a sham, put people in a room toss questions at them with a moderator that steers debate, not a moderator that tosses softball questions and steers them away from debate.

    All the independents should put on a real debate, discuss issues till your throats are dry and your sick of debating them, but put one on sometime someplace and show people that want to watch it what a real honest to god debate looks like.

  • rick0857

    Don’t put too much stock into any study coming from U of M because they just like every other major university in the Nation are now CHOCK FULL OF COMMUNISTS!!!!!!!!

  • Sic Semper Tyrannis

    As long as the political process is dominated by two parties of mafia whores, only mafia whores will be the well-funded winners as witnessed by the recent results, and the People will remain enslaved to their mafia Establishment masters as they and their nation is utterly destroyed right before their very eyes.

    Truth is so much more powerful and practical than currently trying a 3rd party to restore power, liberty, and justice to the people. 9/11 Truth is a movement whose time is long overdue. If we ever expect to see the criminals in both political parties tried for TREASON for continuing to defend the US mafia’s fairytale, we must galvanize this Movement. This has the potential to destroy the US mafia parties, the US ZNN Propaganda Ministry, and their Zionist masters by inciting political Revolution on a massive scale. Much of the rest of the world knows the Amerikan People were played like a violin by the Mossad and the CIA on 9/11. It is time we quit this ridiculous masquerade of pretending we actually have a LEGITIMATE government in the District of Criminals.

    If we just sit back, the Establishment loves it. They did the same with JFK’s assassination. They killed many witnesses before they could testify and kept much of the evidence sealed for 50 years, so that most of the guilty parties would be likely dead and gone by the time the TRUTH is discovered. The same game is being played again with 9/11. That is why we must beat them at their own game by getting this TRUTH to the forefront NOW, so we can eliminate this mafia cancer from our government and destroy BOTH political parties, the satanic psychopaths in the CIA and the Military Industrial Complex, and the Zionists covering for Mossad and Israel’s numerous other crimes against humanity. We have so many Neocon nutjobs like Rush Bimbo, Sean Insanity, Machine-Gun Annie Coulter, Michael the Savage, etc., who glorify our “heroes” obsequiously for volunteering to die for Israel and be maimed for life for nothing more than a hideously evil lie that none of these idiots ever bothered to investigate, a lie these idiots reinforced by making fun of and refusing to debate 9/11 Truthers just as they did to Birthers. When 9/11 Truth comes to the forefront, these idiots will be seen for what they truly are – nothing more than a laughingstock for their refusal to embrace the TRUTH. The US military, when they realize they have been lied to for so long and have lost so many of their comrades over a hideous lie, will rise up and have a long overdue military coup d’etat. The arrests, military tribunals, sentencing, and executions will take many days, but every single day will be well worth it no matter how long it takes. When it would finally be all over, the Republic would most certainly finally be restored to at least a path of recovery. Judges need to be tried at all levels of government. Secretaries of State of all the 50 States and federal and State Attorneys General need to be tried and even the US Army Provost Marshal General, military Judge Colonel Lind and several JAG’s need to be tried along with numerous CIA, FBI, Secret Service officials, and past Presidents. All of the Hawaii Department of Health needs to be arrested and tried. Even the ZNN US Propaganda Ministry needs to be arrested and interrogated and tried. During the coup, the military would have to take over the press to get critical truthful information out to the American People. The banksters on Wall Street would also need to be arrested and tried. The Zionists, many of whom were dual Israeli/US citizens, who were complicit in the 9/11 crime would all need to be arrested and tried for High TREASON. The Madoff trial records, which have been sealed by the mafia government for “national security” should be released immediately to the public along with anything sealed for “national security” by the US mafia. The head of the military coup should demand the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador for the crime of 9/11. Finally, after the stench has been removed from the District of Criminals and the State governments, elections and the press may be restored for the re-establishment of Constitutional government. Now, who wants to bet any of the American People would ever vote again for a Democrat or Republican under those circumstances???

    OK, dream’s over!!!

  • Michael Shreve

    ONLY through barriers to entry can the TWO political parties PREVENT a viable third (or even fourth and fifth, VIABLE political party from arising. It ALL about POWER.


    “Full Government control of all activities of the individual is virtually the goal of both national parties.” -Ludwig Von Mises

  • Evelyn Sue Enderle

    what I have noticed, is, there aren’t too many 3rd party candidates taking votes from liberals…but there have been quite a few that have taken the vote from conservatives. In other words liberals are united. Conservatives are fighting.

  • Evelyn Sue Enderle

    and that is why Bush won,the first time and why Obama won the second time..

  • Gerald Fodor

    So you’re OK with what
    happened in Virginia where the 3rd party candidate “libertarian” Sarvis who clearly caused the conservative Tea Party candidate Cuccinelli to lose to
    Clinton crony Terry
    McAuliffe by
    2.5 percentage points? BTW Sarvis got 6.5 percent of the vote – Just which of the other two
    candidates do you think the vast majority of that 6.5% of the vote come from?
    Hmmmmmmmmmm????????? Why of course the “Lib” candidate!!
    Oh an one more thing did you know that the Democrats provided significant
    funding to Sarvis knowing that he would almost surely take votes away from
    Cuccinelli and NOT McAuliffe? I’m sure you didn’t or at least looked the
    other way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!