There were 38 Third Parties in the USA when Ralph Nader made his Independent runs for president. I worked on three of his campaigns in two states. We needed eight third parties to get ballot access in 49 states, and we could never get OK. We won dozens of law suits in dozens of states, and lost everyone that wasn't dismissed because the two major parties worked together to close ballot access and debates.
I was registered "Decline to state party", which was originally designed for those who worked in the government no matter who was president, and no party affiliation was needed. Then the states changed that, so everyone had to re-register NO PARTY PREFERENCE (NPP) in CA.
The PROBLEM for the Indy are many. As a voter you have no representation, so you vote for who others put on your ballot, or you write in, but you will never win an election, so why vote? Fact is, no one cares about your "protest" except as a spoiler or a statistic.
As a candidate, you have no network. There are no committees, no conventions, no national or statewide support, and no matter how great your idea, MSM isn't interested. At best, you may find someone from a party wanting to use you as a spoiler for the other.
So this is why you will not see Indy's get elected into federal office. Once in, they may change to Indy, but they are on their way out, because the people who voted for them based on the letter behind their name (D), (R), resent the change while once in office.
This is why Ron Paul refused to go Indy, though it's the fastest growing group of voters. The message is, "I don't like either party", but the results are, "Keep things exactly as they are, I'd rather marginalize myself with no representation".
Politicians listen to those who financially support them. Those who paid big bucks to have a breakfast, lunch or dinner with Ron Paul KNOW exactly what I'm talking about. Those big bucks did not mean you even got to talk to him, but it got you the chance.
Now that I'm in the GOP, it's the same thing.. you got to pay to play, so this is why the saying, "American Government is the best government money can buy", is true.
I still think Ron Paul's invitation into the GOP was brilliant. Hundreds of folks like me would have never gone there. I spent decades waving signs, writing letters, rallying, protesting, and now I see, I was just a pawn. And that's why I hate to see so many people here snub the GOP as if the GOP was anything but a shell. If you like the GOP as it is, go Indy. If you actually want to change the GOP, get in and change it. Being an Indy is a tide pool and the tide is out.