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The Highest Performing Third-Party Candidates for President

From Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party run in 1912 to Ross Perot's independent endeavors in 1992 and 1996, these individuals have left an indelible mark on the American political landscape.
Published on February 1, 2024

The Highest Performing Third-Party Candidates for President
Teddy Roosevelt


Explore the impact of third-party candidates on U.S. presidential elections with a closer look at history’s best performers. From Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive Party run in 1912 to Ross Perot’s independent endeavors in 1992 and 1996, these individuals have left an indelible mark on the American political landscape.

Third-Party Candidates

  • Theodore Roosevelt (Progressive Party, 1912): Finished second with 27.4% of the popular vote, as well as 88 electoral votes.
  • Ross Perot (Independent, 1992): Captured 18.9% of the popular vote, the highest percentage for a third-party candidate since Theodore Roosevelt.
  • George Wallace (American Independent Party, 1968): Secured 13.5% of the popular vote; also won five southern states (45 electoral votes).
  • Robert La Follette (Progressive Party, 1924): Received 16.6% of the popular vote and carried Wisconsin.
  • Ross Perot (Reform Party, 1996): After his 1992 bid, ran again in 1996, capturing 8.4% of the popular vote.

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  • John B. Anderson (Independent, 1980): Received 6.6% of the popular vote.
  • Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party, 2016): Despite never being allowed to take the debate stage, Johnson secured 3.3% of the popular vote.
  • Eugene V. Debs (Socialist Party, multiple elections): Ran five times between 1900 and 1920, with his best showing in 1912, where he received 6% of the popular vote.
  • Ralph Nader (Green Party, 2000): Received nearly 3% of the popular vote. Also, was controversial for his impact on the close election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
  • Henry A. Wallace (Progressive Party, 1948): Finished with 2.4% of the popular vote.