Want a third political party? 46% of Americans say they do.

Want a third party? Lots of talk making the rounds about forming a third party.

You may even see some news stories saying half of all Americans want a 3rd political party. See page 13 of a recent NBC/WSJ poll that says 46% want a 3rd party (1).

Wanting is different than WANTING. It is no small task to start a third political party. The odds are also stacked against you being successful because you actually have to win elections or receive a huge number of votes before you become a full participant in the political process. Example: Ross Perot was able to participate in the 1992 presidential debates but was disqualified in 1996’s debates due to many factors that place special challenges in the path of third party success (2).

This question about wanting a third party has historically gotten a 45-51% support response. And “strongly” wants has always averaged 30%.

My Prediction

Republicans will run alternative candidates on as many “existing” third party tickets as possible in 2010, mostly against moderate Republicans. End result: Either a split vote leaving moderate Republicans losers or just the threat of a third party run scares off moderate Republicans that don’t have a firm storyline about what they believe and a strong relationship with their constituents. Third party end runs will only work in the South and the eastern seaboard.


1 – http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Sections/NEWS/091027_NBCPoll.pdf

2 – In Ross Perot’s case, despite having got 18% of the presidential election vote in 1992, America’s Commission on Presidential Debates placed many hurdles in his path in 1996: he needed ballot status in all 50 states, his standing in the polls needed to reach a certain percentage, attendance levels at his rallies indicating he was a viable candidate with real supporters, a consideration of the likelihood that he will ever be president, and the opinions of a host of pundits on the value of his presence on the political scene (if he is just a spoiler then inclusion would be free publicity for a non-serious candidate).

1 Comment

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One response to “Want a third political party? 46% of Americans say they do.

  1. Joseph A. Cummins

    I agree 100% with your assessment on the third party prospects. The cards are really stack against it ever happening. Bot the Dems and GOP saw to that.

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