A new Gallup poll out this morning, September 24, 2014, found that 58% of Americans strongly want a third political party choice in the candidates because the two older parties “do such a poor job” representing the people. This number is little changed from a Gallup poll asking the same question in 2007.
The third largest political party is the Libertarian Party, yet its candidates face unfair hurdles of ballot access and media exclusion. Many states in the nation purposely raise the bar for Libertarian Party candidates to have their name printed on the ballot alongside the Republican and Democratic candidates. In these states, Republican and Democratic candidates have a much smaller threshold to gain access to the ballot than do, Libertarian Party (LP) candidates. LP candidates are often required to get dramatically more petition signatures or are required to pay more to qualify to run for office than their political counterparts. This is done to keep third parties from gaining access to the voters. Additionally, Libertarian Party candidates are routinely excluded from news media mentions once they have qualified to be on the ballot. For example, in Florida the ballot in 2012 for President of the United States included twelve names; yet, the general media did such a poor job informing the public, over 95% of voters only knew of the Republican and Democratic candidates.
Americans are consistently desirous of third party inclusion; however, the general media seems reluctant to give it to them. Only about 40% of Americans are happy with two older political parties. Most people I have spoken to on the subject feel strongly that even if they do not agree with a third party candidate’s views, they would like to see them represented fairly in the media as well as in regular debates so they could learn more about the candidates. The success of third party candidates is directly related to media exposure. It has been proven through polling and other surveys, the more the public knows about third party candidates, the better those candidates do in polling.
In Florida, Libertarian Party of Florida Gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie is polling around 10% or more; yet, over 90% of Floridians either have never heard his name or do not know enough about him to form an opinion as to whether to vote for him in November. This is an example of the failure of the media due to the lack of fair coverage of the Wyllie campaign – even though he is clearly a serious, qualified candidate. Wyllie is crisscrossing the state of Florida and is at campaigns stops nearly daily. That said, with some exceptions, Wyllie is not getting fair coverage and is purposely being excluded from the gubernatorial debates put on by the general media. Once Wyllie reached the polling numbers required to participate in the debates, they changed the requirement to a higher level. There is little doubt, that if Wyllie meets the 15% poll criteria this month, the criteria will change again, raising the threshold.