Elections

People see a need for a 3rd party--but will they vote for its candidates?

Voters get a sticker to encourage others to vote, November 6, 2012. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)
Voters get a sticker to encourage others to vote, November 6, 2012. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT) MCT

A majority of Americans, annoyed with Republicans and Democrats, think a third political party is needed, according to a new Gallup poll.

But that doesn’t mean such an alternative would have much success.

“Americans' current desire for a third party is consistent with their generally negative views of both the Republican and Democratic parties, with only about four in 10 viewing each positively,” according to a Gallup analysis released Wednesday. Fifty-eight percent saw a need for a third party.

Succeeding with a third party has been difficult in modern times. Independent Ross Perot got 19 percent of the presidential popular vote in 1992, but no electoral votes. No other third party effort has come close since then. In 2012, presidential candidates not running on a Republican or Democratic ticket got a total of less than 2 percent of the popular vote.

As Gallup notes, “Given the U.S. political system, those whose ideology puts them to the left of the Democratic Party or the right of the Republican Party are better served trying to work within a major political party than establishing their own party.”

It cited the Tea Party movement, which did fairly well in 2010 and 2012 backing candidates who were nominated for the Senate and House of Representatives and in some cases won.

“But as with most U.S. third parties historically, the Tea Party's influence appears to be waning as the movement did not play a pivotal role in the 2012 Republican presidential nomination and was less successful in defeating more moderate Republican candidates in the 2014 congressional primaries than in 2010,” Gallup noted.

  Comments