Third party candidates — those candidates who are not affiliated with Democrats or Republicans — run with a set of alternative issues that differ from the platforms of the two major parties. Because of the closeness of the 2008 presidential race, the outcome could turn on voters dissatisfied with the major two parties who cast votes for third party candidates, often seen as "spoilers."
Recent polls have showed the main third party presidential candidates in the 2008 general election are:
- Independent candidate Ralph Nader, getting 3 to 4 percent in some polls: Bio | Issues Nader is a longtime consumer advocate and government gadfly. His running mate is Matt Gonzalez, former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
- Libertarian candidate Bob Barr, getting 2 or 3 percent in some polls: Bio | Issues Barr is a former Georgia Republican Congressman. His running mate is Wayne Allen Root, a long-time las Vegas oddsmaker and TV host.
- Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney, getting as much as 1 percent: Bio | Issues McKinney is a former Georgia Democratic congresswoman. Her running mate is community organizer and journalist Rosa Clemente.
Another third party candidate who also might fill the spoiler role this year is Chuck Balwin, Constitution Party, mainly because Republican Ron Paul has thrown him his support.
Other third party presidential candidates include: Frank McEnulty, New American Independent Party; Gloria Las Riva, Party for Socialism and Liberation; Brian Moore, Socialist Party USA; and independent candidate Alan Keyes (who unsuccessfuly ran for the GOP nomination).