Ian Tuttle of National Review Online challenges the notion that this year’s presidential election ballot features any viable third-party option.

In 1992, Ross Perot, running on no party’s ticket, managed to capture 19 percent of the national vote, and who knows what he would have received had he not withdrawn from the race in July only to capriciously re-enter in October. At the high-water mark of his campaign, in June, he was polling at 37 percent and led the three-way field.

Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, the two minor-party candidates currently making longshot bids for the White House, will not be seeing numbers like Perot’s. Johnson, the Libertarian-party candidate, is currently averaging 7 percent support in national polls; Stein, of the Green party, is at 3 percent. That is in part a function of the candidates themselves. Johnson, the former (Republican) governor of New Mexico and the 2012 Libertarian candidate, is not running a campaign as much as whimpering to voters to “Be Libertarian with Me” (which, as slogans go, is not exactly “Morning in America”), while Stein, a physician, has spent the last week trying to explain what she meant when she said people have “real questions” about the safety of vaccines. …

… Most Republicans cannot stomach the idea of a Clinton presidency. Most Democrats cannot stomach the idea of a President Trump. Either would be “the end of America as we know it.” They have separately agreed on the same course of action: Defeat the other guy, at any cost.

This explains, at least in part, why the party apparatuses failed so spectacularly, effectively rubber-stamping two candidates manifestly unfit for office. This was especially egregious in the GOP, where there were a dozen qualified, conscientious, conservative candidates to whom the party could have turned. But despite polling showing that Trump would be the worst candidate to face Hillary head-to-head, party higher-ups rallied to him as the primaries drew to a close, systematically working to undermine any attempts to challenge his nomination. They apparently made their own calculations that failing to do so would seal the party’s fate in November. Likewise, the DNC quashed the enormous dissatisfaction within its own ranks by touting the need, the all-important need, to defeat Donald Trump.