Americans and a Third Major Party

By Jedediah Bila

Gallup released an interesting poll today with respect to the appetite of American voters for a third major party. According to the poll, 45% of Americans believe “the Republican and Democratic parties do an adequate job of representing the American people” (a number that has increased from 38% in September of 2011), while 46% believe that “they do such a poor job that a third major party is needed” (a number that has declined from 55% since September of 2011.)

40% of Democrats, 36% of Republicans, and 58% of Independents currently support the concept of a third party. It is important to note that the “58% support level among independents…is the second lowest on record.”

In addition, “Gallup tested the support for three third-party candidates identified by name and party — Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party), Jill Stein (Green Party), and Virgil Goode (Constitution Party) — and found 1% support for each, with another 1% volunteering another third-party candidate’s name.”

In other words, 46% of the country may support the concept of a third major party, but the practical application of that concept as it relates to current candidates is quite small.

Is that a reflection on the candidates? To an extent. Does it mean that the American public’s primary interest is reforming our two-party system without the addition of a third party? Quite possibly. Could a highly popular figure run on a third-party ticket in the relatively near future and capture a significant percentage of the vote? It could happen.

Recall that Ross Perot received 19% of the vote in the 1992 presidential election. With the rise of the tea party in recent years, a growing dissatisfaction among voters with respect to politics as usual, and a blurred line in many cases between big-government Republicans and big-government Democrats, it is possible that a charismatic third-party candidate with a solid record and established support base could capture a larger percentage of the vote than Perot did in ’92.

However, it is the question of whether or not that candidate could win an election–and whom that candidate would be taking votes away from if he/she didn’t win–that leaves many Americans still quite concerned about a third-party embrace.

One can’t predict the future when it comes to the potential rise of a third major party. However, the willingness of many Americans to stand up for principles over parties, to hold politicians within their own parties accountable, and to think outside the box when it comes to America’s political future–well, those things are growing from where I’m standing with each passing day.


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10 years ago

The Electoral College and winner take all in presidential elector contests in most states keeps our two party system just that. Perot proved that getting zero electoral votes. A third party candidate can spoil an election and distort the will of the electorate by allowing a minority president to slip in. Woodrow Wilson is an example. Perot may have been a spoiler.

I don’t believe the electoral college will ever be abolished. The political operatives in each of our two major parties undoubtedly appreciate that the two party system is protected by it. Third party candidates just can’t win. The system also requires the two major parties to stay close to the center to win, punishing extremes, and forcing majority coalitions.

With a multi-party system political decisions end up in party back rooms and unstable coalitions. Look to Italy and Israel for what happens.

Roy Baird
10 years ago

Below is from George Washington’s Farewell Address!

Warns against the party system.

“It serves to distract the Public Councils,
and enfeeble the Public Administration….
agitates the Community with ill-founded
jealousies and false alarms; kindles the
animosity of one…. against another….
it opens the door to foreign influence and
corruption… thus the policy and the will
of one country are subjected to the policy
and will of another.”

Stresses the importance of religion and morality.
“Where is the security for property, for reputation,
for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert
the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation
in Courts of Justice?”

On stable public credit.
“…cherish public credit.
One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly
as possible… avoiding likewise the accumulation of
debt…. it is essential that you…bear in mind,
that towards the payments of debts there must be
Revenue, that to have Revenue there must be taxes;
that no taxes can be devised, which are not…
inconvenient and unpleasant…”

Warns against permanent foreign alliances.
“It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent
alliances with any portion of the foreign world…”

Don Aschenbrenner
10 years ago

It is hard to imagine what a third party could accomplish other than utter confusion in a voting public that has literally no place to go to get reliable accurate information. All parties have slanted information to their way of thinking and none of it is reliable. Witness any subject and the parties are usually diametrically opposed. The result is often a case of the voter making a selection of the lesser of two evils, without fully understanding either one. Where a majority of voters base their information on 30 second sound bytes bought and paid for by unknown organizations, the result can be nothing but the disaster we are now facing. Where 47% of the citizens pay no income taxes and 47 million are on food stamps, pandering to these groups becomes a necessary evil to become elected. What is so hard to understand about the fact that we are broke and there is really no money for any of these programs. Obviously “Helicopter” Ben Bernanke has no idea what to do so he just continues to print more money which in effect debases the $ making everything more expensive. His policies of low interest rates have forced us senior retired citizens into an extremely risky stock market to keep up with inflation as we can no longer earn a reasonable rate of interest on whatever retirement we may have been able to accumulate.
One of your comments below suggesting a parliamentary system should be taken with a grain of “salt”. Witness the UK and other European countries that have tried this and see if those are the results we are seeking. I think not!

10 years ago

Very well said on all counts.

10 years ago

Why have you not posted my reply to Arthur??

10 years ago

Yeah, haven’t they done a wonderful job? The country is morally, spitritually, and financially bankrupt. No matter which of the two runs things, we get poorer and they get richer. How can anyone with any sense think there’s any difference between them? Unbelievable

10 years ago

My thoughts are that a third party will not work. It will create more problems that it will solve, and will water down the vote. My solution to this would be to merge the two present parties into one. Let all the liberal Republicans (RINOs) leave and join the Democrat Party and call it the Republicrat Party. The conservative Democratrs (if there is such a thing) and the conservative limited government Republicans and conservative Independents could all band totether to form a new second party.

Sal Sanders
10 years ago

Well said PaulE. But how can you degrade Clinton ((any more than he has already degraded himself).
He is persuasive—-to anyone of his persuasion– –eloquent and pernicioiusly glib. (Would you buy a used car from this man?) But to the dyed-in-the wool leftist democrats he is an icon and an idol, Lord GAGA of sorts.
But his legacy, lest we forget, and his credibility are, ab initio, impeached. He was unfaithful, disgraced, impeached, disbarred; a liar, and a perjurer, who himself dishonored his office and our Country by his disrespect, his lies and his lust.
However, we are remiss in not responding to his speech made at the Democratic National Convention by quickly and emphatically impeaching his credibility before the American public.
Case rested.

10 years ago

A third party would end up ensuring that Obama gets re-elected, plain and simple. I think what most people find interesting about a third party concept is that they think it would more closely reflect their values. However, in the real world, it is much more practical to reform one of the existing political parties, specifically the Republican Party, to more closely reflect the values that made America great. That’s what groups like AMAC, the TEA Party and other conservative groups are attempting to do from the bottom up. Reform the values of the Republican Party to once again more closely reflect the values that made this country great.

The Democrat Party has already been taken over by the radical left, as showcased by their most recent political convention. They are a lost cause and are now compromised of every anti-American, anti-capitalistic group in the country. Bill Clinton actually stood out like a sore thumb in the party that was on display a few weeks ago. There is no salvaging that party. They should just re-brand themselves the American Communist Party and be up-front with the American people on what they stand for.

Sal Sanders
10 years ago

Correction to my last sentence in the above coment.
Should read: “Avoid a three or more party system like the bubonic plague.”
(Confusion due to the stress of world crisis and age. Doesn’t take much.)

10 years ago

My husband and I watched both conventions on the TV. My 4 year old granddaughter was sitting in the room as we watched the DNConvention and towards the end I commented that I thought that we needed a 3rd party and the 4 year old yelled out “GOD!”. This took us completely by surprise. We are a Christian family and attend church but I am ashamed to say God doesn’t come up in conversations very often and her parents don’t attend church at all. So her “vote” was not in any way prompted by anything she was hearing.

Although I am very opposed to Obama and his agenda not only for us seniors but for future generations, I feel our country is in grave danger from moral decay and history has shown that that is what led to the destruction of many powerful civilizations and I feel it is going to take more than a change of presidents to save us. Maybe we need to listen to the wisdom of a 4 year old.
I would encourage everyone to read “Implosion” by Joel Rosenberg and read his Flash Traffic web site which looks at current events. It is very informative. I would also recommend seeing the movie 2016 as it gives a good account of the mentors who shaped the thinking of Obama.It was well researched.
It would be a mistake to vote for a 3rd party candidate at this point as it would tip the scales to Obama.
God, continue to bless America

WA Conservative
10 years ago
Reply to  Nana

You are wise, Nana and your grandaughter is spot on. Out of the mouths of babes comes the simple truth. We (the US) are headed for a cliff at 80 mph. A “conservative” (by today’s standards) President and Congress might slow us down to 40 mph. But either way, a nation no longer under God is headed for disaster.
Added to our other problems, a nation that turns against Israel will incurr God’s wrath.

Sal Sanders
10 years ago

Poly Sci 101 and a truism: A third party would be a disaster for our type of representative democracy. It would dilute the democratic process; it would be the ordering of inefficiency. a mishmash of parties. It would open the door to socialism of the extreme right or left. This is Europe’s model. Nice to visit there but not for us thank you.

Stay with the party; reform or change it from within. Voting outside one’s party, is naive and politically clueless.
We have a unique system. It prioritizes the worth of the individual and benefits this Country as a whole.
Only with a two-party system can this paradox work. But it requires the participation, knowledge, concern and effort of each individual to work best. It is self-government in a great way.

Therein lies it’s weakness. For it requires individual responsibility. The socialist view is that man is not capable of governing himself but has to be directed by the more elite of society, i.e. the government. Such a system is the socialist mind set. It will take care of all our needs and tell us what all we can do or not do.

The U.S.A. proves this mind set wrong. Let’s keep it the way it is.
Avoid a two or more party system like the bubonic plague. .

Edwin Eller
10 years ago

At this time any vote against the republican party will in acctualy be turned into a vote for Obama and will get him re-eleced.So all I can say is BEWARE of how you are going to be voting. This election year is going to be one where every vote will count.

10 years ago

What romney shoud do is everytime obama says something in a speech he should tell the american people why that isn”t good for them. He should tell the media why do you ask obama about songs on his ipod and not why dont you fix our economy? why do you ask obama hows beyonce and dont ask him to make us energy independent instead of stopping us from drilling? romney should not take any fluff questions from the media only questions with substance.

Darlene Betterton
10 years ago
Reply to  jose


10 years ago

At this time, a third party movement would fragment the vote enough to get Obama reelected, so it needs to come sometime after this next election. As a Tea Party supporter, I would support a conservative movement away from John Boehner and his type. We need someone who would actually support smaller government, even if it made reelection difficult. We’re headed off the fiscal cliff, and cannot afford to have Obama and Harry Reid stay in control, or my grandchildren, who are already in the workforce, will never be able to pay off the federal debt.

10 years ago
Reply to  Reed


May I suggest that instead of looking to a third party after this election, we concentrate more on voting out those in the Republican Party that don’t reflect the values of the TEA Party and its limited government approach. Building a viable third party from the ground up, that is capable of financially and structurally of competing head-to-head against the well-funded Democrat Party would take years to create. In the meantime, it would allow the Democrats to re-build their attack machine to re-take the country in the next election cycle.

If we’re fortunate enough to rid ourselves of Obama and his majority in the Senate this election, we can’t afford to give the Democrat Party any opportunity to re-group and re-take any branch of the federal government again. They are simply too destructive to the country. We have to focus on undoing ObamaCare and all the legislation and regulations put in place over the last 3 /2 years, that have crippled our ability to recover from what should have been a relatively brief recession.

In short, a successful election would just be the start of cleaning up the mess Obama and the Democrats are left us with. So we can’t take our eye off the ball after the election and think we have the luxury and time to create a viable third party from scratch.

10 years ago

The DNC and RNC used to be not so far apart. They were usually able to negotiatea settlement where each side gave a little and each got a little. Now there is a fast valley between the two which neither side is able to cross. The people are the ones that lose out.
The 2 parties will destroy the country before they give one inch to the other side. The nation is divided like never before in recent history. They are destroying us. We need a better way. For the sake of america the 2 party system must be destroyed and new ideas brought to the people. This governemnt has become a heavy oppressive weight on the necks of the people. We need real change not a fraud like Obama.

Vicky Deehan
10 years ago

I have not seen any comment on Rand Paul. It’s a shame he could not get the Republican nomination. That being said I would vote for Romney or Mickey Mouse to get insane hoosain Obama out of the White House. Libya is the last straw on his continuing to sends billions to foreign countries when we are in such dire straits here on our own ground.

10 years ago

While our primary goal must be to defeat Obama in November, I do not like the RNC.
After November, I would like to see the Republican Party reformed to embrace the Tea Party and become more conservative.
If that doesn’t happen, then I will support a conservative 3rd Party.

10 years ago

Our founding fathers specifically had no provision for political ”parties.” In fact, if you recall, the president and vice president were elected independently, not as a ”team.” Can you figure the odds of that coming back today, without my help? HA!

Doug Renfrow
10 years ago

I believe most Americans aren’t thrilled with having a third party to complicate matters. I do believe most would support a revamping of current parties or replacing one with a new party that is more in tune with modern thought and events, More conservative and less “good-ole’-boy. I hear the Libertarian party or a Centrist party being tossed around, viable replacements in my opinion.

10 years ago

I do believe there is a need for another party in this country. Of course now is not the time to talk about it.
After the election and the Romney win; we can see what’s out there in the way of candidates and then there are 3.5 years to vet them.

10 years ago

I believe some Democrats might like to see a third party now BECAUSE THIS YEAR IT WOULD RESULT IT PRES. OBAMA BEING REELECTED.

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