There is a thread in OT that is discussing an American third party. I'd like to give some background on the subject. In 1850, the two main political parties were the Democrats (the successors of Jefferson's Democratic Republicans) and the Whigs (who had superseded the Federalists after the War of 1812). Sectional antagonisms fomented by the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) tore the Whigs apart. By 1854, mass meetings were held in Michigan, Wisconsin, and other Midwestern states, and the Republican party was born. A coalition made up principally of former Whigs (Lincoln had been a Whig) and anti-slavery Democrats, the movement spread to other Northern states. In 1856, the Republicans nominated John C. Frémont for the Presidency and, while he lost, did quite respectably. Because the party was purely sectional, Southerners viewed its growth with dismay. By the 1860 election, the Whigs had pretty much vanished from view. There is the point that the Democrats split over slavery. The nomination of Stephen Douglas so incensed the Southern delegates that many of them walked out of the Democratic convention. Later they held a rump convention and nominated John C. Breckinridge for President. There was a third party candidate, John Bell of Tennessee, nominated by the Constitutional Union Party with a platform calling only for the preservation of the Union. With the Democrats split, Lincoln's election was virtually assured. The electoral and popular votes broke down thusly: Lincoln: 180 - 1,865,593 Breckinridge: 72 - 848,356 Bell: 39 - 592,906 Douglas: 12 - 1,382713 Lincoln got only about 40% of the popular vote and supposedly failed to win a single vote in Mississippi A Republican presidential victory, many warned, would so endanger Southern interests as to warrant secession from the Union. When Lincoln won in 1860, the threat became a reality. Since the 1860s there hasn't been a political or social issue in the U.S. that was so divisive as slavery. Unless one arises and the two major political parties don't each stake out opposing sides, a viable third party is unlikely in the U.S.