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Why Kansas and Missouri political scientists say third-party bids will still struggle this election year

Two people sit at long tables, bent over while they write. In foreground are cardboard dividers that are printed with a waving American flag and read "Vote Here"
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Voters at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri cast their ballot Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 8, 2022.

A recent poll said nearly a third of voters didn't support either former President Donald Trump or President Joe Biden. But third-party or independent candidates still don't have a serious path forward, and in Kansas, lawmakers want to make it more difficult for them to make the ballot for statewide office.

Many voters, especially young people, are unenthusiastic about this November's likely rematch between former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden.

A recent Reuters poll found that nearly a third of respondents didn't support either candidate.But other options don't seem to be materializing.

There's several reasons behind that, Dr. Amber Dickinson, an associate professor of political science at Washburn University, said on Up To Date. The two-party system is institutionalized, and very hard to change. Plus, third-party or independent candidates struggle more in fundraising and even getting on the ballot compared to major-party candidates.

And despite growing popularity for alternative voting systems like ranked-choice voting, Kansas and Missouri lawmakers have tried to outlaw the practice in recent years. This session, the Kansas House introduced a bill that would make it more difficult for independent candidates to make the ballot for statewide office.

"It's not necessarily because an independent candidate is going to win a race," said Dr. Matt Harris, an associate professor of political science at Park University. "But those independent candidates, like Greg Orman... I think he won six or seven percent of the vote. That can be enough to take away from a major party."

  • Dr. Amber Dickinson, associate professor of political science at Washburn University
  • Dr. Matt Harris, associate professor of political science at Park University
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