Everytime there's a gripe against an action by the major parties, there's always a threat of "We need a third party." It's followed by assumptions that "everyone will join the third party" and everything will be perfect. The problem is that the person threatening assumes (and we know the three words in the word "assume") that all of the ideological base will magically join the third party. It doesn't work that way. Others like to fall on their swords to feel superior and demand we all do so as well. I have no desire to fall on my sword. I don't like losing - elections or ideology.
I understand the frustrations at times. I was a regular 3rd party voter when I started voting. The candidates did what you expect to happen - lose badly.
Third parties are a protest vote. Anyone that thinks otherwise are fooling themselves. I'm not going to call it a wasted vote because there are reasons when some people just can't support a candidate for whatever reason.On the same note, I also am under no delusions that a 3rd party candidate or movement has a chance in Hell, Michigan of succeeding. History has shown that time and time again. I tell third party advocates the following - "When you consistently get 33% of the vote or 33% of the seats, call me." Until that point, it's a waste of time unless you go the New York fusion system where there's cross-party ballot lines with Dems, Republicans, Right to Life, Conservative, Liberal, and Working Families Parties.
There is very limited 3rd party success of any sort. Recently, there are five, and I'm being generous here. Lisa Murkowski and Joe Lieberman were incumbents as R/D in their state and won the general after losing the primary. The others I can name on three fingers. Bernie Sanders, Angus King, and Jesse Ventura are the others. Maine has a history of 3rd party support as does Minnesota. That's about it. Sanders is the aberration.
In Michigan, third parties have never in the modern era been in the running for state legislative districts, or statewide office. They haven't come close to controlling a state's delegation. They have no US House seats.
Michigan 2012 3rd party results:
Highest - Green - 0.46% of the vote.
2nd Highest - US Taxpayers (affiliate of the Constitution Party) - 0.34% of the vote.
Gary Johnson was a write-in - 0.16% of the vote.
Combined less than 1%
Highest - Libertarian Scotty Boman who always runs better than most 3rd parties - 1.82%.
What about 2010. Snyder had right flank issues...
Libertarian - 0.69%
US Taxpayers Party - 0.65%
Didn't a 3rd party candidate make a run in the 1st district in 2010? Glenn Wilson ran an actual campaign and got 3.36%.
Nader did well in in 2000 right? 1.99% (Michigan) 2.75% nationwide. He wasn't a contender.
Jon Coon in 1994 was the gold standard of the Libertarians at that time? 4.22%
Ross Perot Nationwide?
1996 - 8.40% and 8.75% in Michigan
1992 - 18.91% and 19.30% in Michigan
Number of State's Perot won? Zero, despite his millions.
Bob Barr, Ron Paul, and Pat Buchanan didn't break 1% as third party candidates. Ross Perot never won a state. The last third party candidate to win any states in a presidential year was George Wallace. Wallace got 13.53% in 1968 and won five states.
"Unpledged" won Mississippi in 1960.
Strom Thurmond won three states in 1948 despite a national 2.41% campaign. Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, and Louisiana.
In 1924 - Bob LaFollette got 16.61% as the Progressive Party. He won Wisconsin, his home state.
You have to back to Bull Moose for anything significant. Teddy Roosevelt, a former president, got 27% of the vote and won California, South Dakota, Michigan, Washington State, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. 88 electoral votes, good enough for 2nd place. Unfortunately, we got stuck with Woodrow Wilson, one of the worst presidents of the 20th century. Wilson got 435 electoral votes despite 41.84% of the popular vote.
Before that, James Weaver got 5 states and 22 votes in one 1880's election. That's it going back to Lincoln's days.
Third party advocates site that the Republicans were once a third party. You're going back to 1856. My family was still in Ireland at that time. The only way I see a repeat of ANYTHING like the 1850's happening is if you a mass defection over a major league crisis issue as there was over slavery (and the spread of it with the Dred Scot ruling) The only issue on that level today is Abortion. While there are pro-life democrats and pro-choice republicans, that's the one issue where something like this could theoretically happen. (Guns won't cause party realignment. People will just ignore tyrannical gun laws) If it did happen, it would take a long time to happen. The party re-alignments in the 1850's occurred due to splits in both parties. Southern and Northern Whigs and Northern and Southern Democrats both split (The Calhouns vs the Jacksonians).
If Bull Moose couldn't do it, nor Wallace, Perot, or anyone else, who would - and how? I don't see it, either short term, or especially long term. The fact is most people aren't that political. Those who vote, vote 97-99% for the two parties. That's just the way it is, whether one likes it or not.