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  • AQA Component US political parties: the two-party dominance in US politics; significance of third parties and independent candidates

  • Edexcel Component 5.1 Electoral systems in the USA: 5.1.1 Presidential elections and their significance

Background: what you need to know

The article reviews the growing number of third-party and independent candidates who may participate in the 2024 US presidential election. They are seeking to appeal to voters who are disenchanted with the binary choice between the two main parties.

They may include the centre-right Democratic senator Joe Manchin, who has a record of opposing President Biden’s policies and is retiring from the Senate. The ‘No Labels’ movement, led by former Democrats and Republicans, may seek to mobilise support for a centrist unity candidate.

Click the link below to read the article and then answer the questions:

Third-party candidates pose new threat to Biden re-election bid

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 2

  • Explain and analyse three reasons why the USA has a two-party system. [9 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 3

  • Evaluate the view that independent and third-party candidates are of limited importance in US presidential elections. You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks]

    TIP: You need to understand the significance of third-party and independent candidates, referring to previous elections to support your answer. Such individuals have never won a presidential contest, but they can affect the outcome by taking votes from one of the two main candidates. On the other hand, the need to attract funding, to galvanise support and create a national political organisation, are significant barriers to outsiders.

Graham Goodlad, Portsmouth High School

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