Why does the United States have a two-party system?


Quick Answer

The two-party system of the United States — wherein elections are invariably won by one of the two major parties, Republican or Democrat — is largely a result of the winner-takes-all electoral system. Whereas in many other countries, the "runner up" parties in an election will nevertheless be represented in government proportional to the number of votes received, the U.S. offers no such incentive for smaller parties to even enter the race. This system may also be described as a "duopoly."

Continue Reading

Full Answer

Even when an independent or third-party candidate is successful in securing votes from the public, this will only count in the Electoral College if they amount to the majority of votes.

As a result, politics in the U.S. is very restricted, with voters liable to apathy in the face of such limited choices. The winner-takes-all system is less democratic than systems of proportional representation, since the interests of those citizens who voted for a non-winning candidate will not be represented in government.

Those in favor of the two-party electoral system in the U.S. point out that it fosters stability in government, and encourages both parties to moderate their views in order to appeal to the middle ground. They also suggest that voters might benefit from the ease of simply selecting between one candidate or the other, which is popularly known as voting for the "lesser of two evils."

Learn more about Types of Government

Related Questions