A new Gallup Poll finds that the desire of many Americans for a third party in the wake of growing perceptions that both parties have failed them is increasing:
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 finding, based on an Aug. 27-30 USA Today/Gallup poll, comes at a time when Americans are widely dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States and give relatively weak approval ratings to the president and Congress.
Though the rise in support for a third party could be linked to the Tea Party movement, Tea Party supporters are just about average in terms of wanting to see a third party created. Sixty-two percent of those who describe themselves as Tea Party supporters would like a third major party formed, but so do 59% of those who are neutral toward the Tea Party movement. Tea Party opponents are somewhat less likely to see the need for a third party.
And this sentiment isn’t restricted to just once chunk of America’s electorate:
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.
Expect this sentiment to increase if — as most expect — American politics enters into a new era of more gridlock, more partisanship and more polarization after the 2010 mid-term elections.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.