A Third Party Opening?
by Deacon Blues
So what’s your reading of a Gallup poll from late last week, wherein a majority of Americans from all political ideologies now support a third party? And we’re not talking about a bare 51% majority either.
Americans' desires for a third political party are as high as they have been in seven years. Fifty-eight percent of Americans believe a third major political party is needed because the Republican and Democratic Parties do a poor job of representing the American people. That is a significant increase from 2008 and ties the high Gallup has recorded for this measure since 2003.
The desire for a third party is fairly similar across ideological groups, with 61% of liberals, 60% of moderates, and 54% of conservatives believing a third major party is needed. That is a narrower gap than Gallup has found in the past; conservatives have typically been far less likely than liberals and moderates to support the creation of a third party.
Six in ten moderates and liberals want another option besides the Democratic and Republican parties. And independents have wanted another option for a while now.
Independents, as might be expected given their lack of primary allegiance to either of the two major parties, express a greater degree of support (74%) for a third party than do Republicans (47%) and Democrats (45%). Over time, independents have consistently been the political group most eager to see a third party formed. But each party group is more likely now than in 2008 to support the formation of a third major party. At that time, about two months before the presidential election, 38% of Democrats, 40% of Republicans, and 63% of independents thought a third party was necessary.
So to recap, there's been an 11-point increase since 2008 in independent support for a third party versus a 7-point increase during that time from both Democrats and Republicans. That may not be earthshattering stuff, given the overall disenchantment with government at a time of economic unease and misery. The real issue is why those in each party want a third option.
Is it safe to assume that liberals and self-identified Democrats want a third party because the Beltway party is really nothing more than a Corporate Democratic Party, beholden to the same people who bankroll the GOP?
Why do 60% of moderates and nearly three-fourths of independents now support a third party? Do their concerns dovetail with the concerns of liberal Democrats that both parties are impotent and unconcerned with Main Street problems? And if you were designing a progressive strategy to capitalize on these findings, how would your economic and social messaging line up to address this desire for a third party, knowing that the Tea Party/GOP cannibalization will be taking place over the next two cycles?