Third Parties' Roles in 2016 Election Vastly Different with Potential to Impact Long Term

The founders of our nation didn't envision permanent parties, or elections with only two major candidates. Instead, they pictured elections with a handful of people running for President each term. Our Stef Manisero shows us how third party candidates are expected to play a role in this election, and why it could change the two-party system going forward.

“Neither of these candidates are ideal for America, in my opinion,” said Austin resident Cameron McElhany.

“I don’t feel like there’s really any candidate that has a chance of winning that reflects the views that I would like to see,” Austin resident Katie Wallace said.

In an election season filled with frustration over both major party nominees, some voters are looking to other options.

Like libertarian Gary Johnson, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

And while the odds are slim to none that either will win this election, experts say they could help sway the outcome.

"They could have a decisive effect in particular states, states like Ohio or Florida perhaps,” said Jeremi Suri, a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School.

By simply being on the ballot, both Johnson and Stein have the power to take votes away from both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Some argue that 16 years ago, that helped determine our President.

“Without Ralph Nader in the race in 2000 is very likely that Al Gore would have won Florida, he was on 527 votes away, and Ralph Nader had far more than 527 votes in Florida, most of those votes came from traditional Democratic voters,” Suri said.

And 8 years earlier in 1992, when experts say Bill Clinton might not have won without fiscally conservative third party candidate Ross Perot in the race.

"He took a lot of votes away from the incumbent President, George H. W. Bush, and that allowed Bill Clinton to win with less than 50% of the popular vote,” said Suri.

This time around, experts predict the impact won't end on Election Day.

"Coming out of this election, particularly if Donald Trump loses, the Republican Party is going to go through a major split,” Suri said.

In a race to the White House that hasn't been short of surprises, anything is possible.

Gary Johnson will be on the ballot in all 50 states. Jill Stein is on the ballot, or eligible to be a write-in candidate, in 48 states. She's not on the ballot in Oklahoma, South Dakota and Nevada.