Social Cleavages and Political Change: Voter Alignments and U.S. Party Coalitions

By Jeff Manza; Clem Brooks | Go to book overview

9
Third Party Candidates

The institutional characteristics of the U.S. party system place enormous obstacles to the emergence of successful third party or independent candidates. As a result, our primary focus in this study has been on support for major party presidential candidates. However, and in spite of their extremely low probability of success, third party candidacies are a periodic feature of U.S. presidential elections. The two most recent presidential elections ( 1992 and 1996) have seen H. Ross Perot receive a significant share (19% and 9%, respectively) of the popular vote. It is thus likely that significant third party candidates will appear in some future elections.

In this chapter, then, we consider the interrelationship between social cleavages and support for third party candidates. More specifically, we examine the candidacies of George Wallace ( 1968) and Ross Perot ( 1992 and 1996). These represent the three most successful third party efforts in the postwar era. (The only other independent campaign of note in this period was the 1980 bid of John Anderson, but Anderson received just 6.5% of the popular vote.) The 1992 and 1996 elections also provide us with a unique opportunity to observe changes in the social bases of support for an independent candidate ( Perot) over two different elections. Since 1840, virtually all third party candidates or minor parties before Perot won significant votes in only one election given that they were unable to mobilize significant support a second time 1.


THIRD PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS: THEORY AND HISTORY

The institutional barriers faced by third party presidential candidates are well-known and require only brief explication. Indeed, the more interesting question is why third party candidates 2 sometimes perform as well as they do in the face of these obstacles. The 'wasted vote' problem plagues all such campaigns, especially campaigns that start

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Social Cleavages and Political Change: Voter Alignments and U.S. Party Coalitions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS v
  • Contents vii
  • Figures viii
  • Tables ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Sociological Tradition in Political Behavior Research 9
  • 2 - Social Cleavages and American Politics 31
  • 3 - Class 49
  • Appendix: Occupation and Class 82
  • 4 - Religion 85
  • Appendix: Major Denominational Coding Scheme 126
  • 5 - Gender 128
  • Conclusion 151
  • 6 - Race and the Social Bases of Voter Alignments 155
  • Conclusion 175
  • 7 - Party Coalitions 176
  • Conclusion 196
  • Appendix: Changes in Group Political Alignments 198
  • 8 - Social Cleavages in the 1996 Election 201
  • Conclusion 214
  • 9 - Third Party Candidates 217
  • Conclusion 229
  • 10 - Conclusion 231
  • Notes 243
  • Bibliography 306
  • SUBJECT INDEX 335
  • NAME INDEX 340
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