A new Gallup poll on Wednesday finds that the majority of Americans want a third major political party, as the existing two are doing a terrible job at representing their interests.
For Americans, both Republicans and Democrats “do such a poor job” that 58 percent believe that an additional political party is necessary to bolster the U.S. political process. The high numbers continue a trend stemming back to 2007, where a majority of voters have supported the establishment of a new political party to contend with the two main options. Exceptions to the rule include the presidential election years of 2008 and 2012 in the fall, where the numbers dipped slightly below majority.
Independents, even more than Republicans or Democrats, sorely want a new political party, coming in at 71 percent support for the idea. Democrats favor a new party at 47 percent, with Republicans following closely behind at 46 percent. The numbers are actually down from last year, when it jumped to 60 percent in the middle of a 16-day government shutdown.
The poll has been running for 11 years, and the first year of the poll in 2003 also marked the last time the American public would be satisfied with the two majority parties as adequately representing their interests.
But in reality, there may be a gap between what Americans desire and what they will actually support. Notable exceptions to the gap include John Anderson, a third-party independent candidate who won 7 percent of the vote in the presidential election of 1980, and Ross Perot, who received 19 percent in 1992 and 8 percent in 1996.
However, of the more recent political parties that would even stand a chance at moving into third place as a major party, the Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson received only 1 percent of the vote in the 2012 election. Ralph Nader took less than 3 percent as the Green Party nominee in 2000.
“Though the desire for a third party exists, it is unclear how many Americans would actually support a third party if it came to be. Americans’ preference for a third party may reflect their frustration with the way the Republican and Democratic parties are performing, as well as the idea that the system ought to be open to new parties, regardless of whether this is viable in practice,” confirmed the Gallup analysis.
Gallup’s Governance poll was conducted from Sept. 4 to 7 and included a nationally representative sample of 1,017 adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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