Everybody Wants a Third Party Now

From Gallup:

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.* [...]

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. [...]

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. [...]

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%).

* I was puzzled why Americans were so pissed off in 2003, and clicking through the trend data [pdf] I see that Gallup seems to be misstating its results–the 58% number was previously matched in July 2007, while in October 2003 third-party sentiment was at 40 percent.

Link via Instapundit. As Nick Gillespie and I argue in the forthcoming book The Declaration of Independents, more and more Americans are realizing that the pendulum of two-party politics has put us in a Poe-like pit. Meanwhile, both parties (and their legions of sycophants in the commentariat) confuses each new swing in the other direction as either the harbinger of a "permanent governing majority" or an occasion to write off the voting public as irredeemably insane.

UPDATE: Some more interesting independent-polling flagged by The Wall Street Journal shows indies planning to vote GOP in the mid-terms despite not liking the party very much, and stressing an agenda of heavy fiscal libertarianism. Excerpt:

A new comprehensive national survey shows that independent voters—who voted for Barack Obama by a 52%-to-44% margin in the 2008 presidential election—are now moving strongly in the direction of the Republican Party. [...]

Today, independents say they lean more toward the Republican Party than the Democratic Party, 50% to 25%, and that the Republican Party is closer to their views by 52% to 30%. This movement comes in spite of independents' generally negative views of the GOP—a majority of independents (54%) view the Republicans unfavorably, compared to 39% who have a favorable impression. (The poll also revealed that 48% of independents were either "sympathetic to or supporters of the tea party.")

Yet Republicans still have a 14-point lead overall among independents who say they intend to vote in the upcoming congressional elections (37% to 23%). Forty percent remain undecided. [...]

[I]ndependents made clear in the survey what they want candidates to do: Decrease the size and scope of government, cut spending and taxes, balance the budget, reduce the federal debt, reduce the power of special interests and unions, repeal and replace the health-care legislation, and decrease partisanship. The survey also showed that independents believe they aren't getting any of this from the current representatives in Washington. [...]

Independents see both parties as big spenders and taxers—only they view the Democrats as worse. When asked what they like most about the GOP, only 9% cite that it will cut spending and taxes. Fourteen percent of independents who were originally Republicans say they left the party because they felt the Republicans spent too much.

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  • David E. Gallaher/Ruthless||

    A Poe-like pit! A Poe-like pit!
    (tension builds...)
    The Tea Party will displace the Republican.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Abe Lincoln a Whig before he had the good sense to switch to Republican?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    That's "good sense" in your book?

  • David E. Gallaher/Ruthless||

    For political survival, you betcha!

  • Frank||

    Does Welch listen to Royce? Nice!

  • ||

    I'm starting a new party. The Vincent Price Party.

  • ||

    Egg-Cellent!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Of course, the downside of a third party is that you could get a fourth, fifth or sixth party, with the largest minority getting its way. The next thing you know we're bring ruled by cat-lovers. Or worse, cats.

  • Restoras||

    Well, given cats' unwillingness to be herded, they strike as very Libertarian. How bad could it be?

  • Joe M||

    I, for one, welcome our new cat overlords.

  • johnl||

    That worked out OK for the Egyptians.

  • ||

    I've never much liked the idea of a permanent third party. Our system is designed around creating majorities. The only way other nations with multiple parties create majorities is with coalitional politics, which strike me as problematic (We need the votes! Somebody call the head of our coalition partner, the Nazi-Commie Party!).

    That said, the best third parties are those that succeed in raising an issue and changing one or more of the Parties as a result.

  • Joe M||

    We need to change our system to allow for more parties.

  • cynical||

    Why not drop elections, replace each Representative with 12 randomly selected citizens from that district (each counting as 1/12 of a representative for calculating representation in the electoral college, etc.) and be done with it?

    A) The House of Representatives actually becomes representative.
    B) No need for campaign spending, because luck gets to decide who goes to Washington
    C) No need to figure out which professional politician is more in touch with the little guy, you're just picking little guys.
    D) Political views more likely to get Congressional representation proportional to their share of the populace.
    E) Gerrymandering becomes much less useful.
    F) Doesn't affect electoral college distribution of power, so no reason to oppose or support on that basis.

  • DG||

    So the last time support for a third party was this high we got... Obama. I'll believe in this mythical wave of independent voters bringing change to Washington when I see it.

  • Ellie||

    The next thing you know we're bring ruled by cat-lovers. Or worse, cats.

    Hey! Quit stealing my platform!

  • Loclat||

    I can has werld dominashin now?

  • Alan Vanneman||

    So I guess Gallop's lead should have been "Americans' desires for a third political party are as high as they have been in three years"? Talk about our winter of discontent!

    More seriously, I see very little sign that the Tea Party folks want to significantly reduce the size of government, or even the deficit. Where were these people when Bush "rammed through" his prescription drug program, with no funding whatsoever? They were in the grandstand, applauding, because the benefits would be going to people like themselves. They're mad at Obama because they see money going to lazy deadbeats, who somehow have a tendency to be, well, not white. Obama has put the welfare monkey back on the Democrats' back, and they are paying the price.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Play the race card again, Vanneman.

    Where was moveon.org before it existed? Why hasn't it ALWAYS existed?

    Yeah, the TP has been hijacked by social conservatives, but its original, pre-hijacking form was worthy of praise. Now, not so much.

  • ||

    the TP has been hijacked by social conservatives

    They used box-cutters and Bibles. No one in the intelligence community had thought of that.

  • ||

    Lemme help you out, there:

    Yeah, the apparatchik enemies of the TP want you to believe the TP has been hijacked by social conservatives,

    Just because the apparatchiks want the TP marginalized and/or coopted into the apparat is no reason to believe that it has been, or should be.

  • ||

    http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/.....ontentBody

    Read down and you will find that among the Tea Party people they consider economic issues to be more important than social issues by a margin of 76% to 14%.

    It hasn't been hijacked by social conservatives. That is just a smoking pile of shit. And it is a lie that needs to no longer be repeated.

  • ||

    Where were these people when Bush "rammed through" his prescription drug program, with no funding whatsoever? They were in the grandstand, applauding, because the benefits would be going to people like themselves.

    So you applaud the Tea Party for supporting candidates specifically to knock off Republicans who voted for Bush's bipartisan drug benefit and for his bipartisan TARP program, right?

  • The Gobbler||

    Shouldn't you be at home writing your next Bobbsey Twins book?

  • Pip||

    They're mad at Obama because they see money going to lazy deadbeats, who somehow have a tendency to be, well, not white.

    Jesus, what a motherfucking racist. The majority of welfare recipients are white, you cosmic ass.

  • Max||

    Arf. Arf. Arf. Arf.

  • QuietDesperation||

    I want a Party that will do "Whatever works".

    Enough with the rigid ideological playbooks where you can't even look at anything outside the cult lest you be ostracized.

  • ||

    Pragmatism? Now that's an agnosticism we can all get behind.

  • ||

    I dunno. I'm not so sure.

  • flye||

    We must be vigilant in our struggle against pragmatic extremists.

  • ||

    Pragmatism in the defense of liberty...sucks.

  • ||

    [I]ndependents made clear in the survey what they want candidates to do: Decrease the size and scope of government, cut spending and taxes, balance the budget, reduce the federal debt, reduce the power of special interests and unions, repeal and replace the health-care legislation, and decrease partisanship.

    Since many of these people voted to put Obama in the White House, this can only be attributed to (a) remarkable stupidity or (b) astonishing personal growth.

    I know which I think it is.

  • Joe M||

    Or (c) Obama was vague enough that people projected whatever positive associations they had with the word "change" onto him.

  • Joe M||

    Although really, (c) is just a mix of (a) and (b).

  • ||

    They were mostly dumb white people who wanted to feel good about themselves for voting for a black man. I believe Reason has a couple of them on staff.

  • ||

    They were mostly dumb white people who wanted to feel good about themselves for voting for a black man. I believe Reason has a couple of them on staff.

  • ||

    You can say that again!

  • Matt C||

    I think the answer to this is really simple: there is a large contingent of people out there who are opposed to the two wars we are still fighting overseas. While Bush had a disastrous fiscal record, my guess is that he would have been significantly more popular without these 2 wars on his record, partcularly Iraq.

    We forget that Obama was mostly elected to end the war in Iraq. Had that war never started he almost certainly would not be president today. This is why people like Andrew Sullivan simply cannot comprehend why there are groups of people who disdain the administration's economic policies, even in the face of the finanical crisis. These people - at least some of them - voted/supported Obama because of his supposed foreign policy positions and his initial opposition to the Iraq war.

    Obama himself has caused most of his problems. He was clearly elected because of the politicization of two wars that cost thousands of Americans' lives and limbs, not to mention the scores of foreigners slaughtered in the endeavor. He knew that so long as the memory of Iraq, its disastrous outcome, and the following financial crisi could remain in voters minds, he could not only get elected but do so with a majority and pass as many of the grand left-wing social and economic projects as possible.

    The shift in the electorate has little to do with sudden changes in how independents view the role of the federal governemtn, but in the realization that Obama is simply another status quo, establishment, party-line Democrat who has no real interest in fundamentally fixing the errors of the last administration (or even of previous administrations). He is more concerned about his "legacy," like all politicans. He says he's not concerned about winning re-election, but that is all B.S - else he would not have caved to his right on foreign policy, executive power, etc...

    I'd bet that the folks at Reason - while still unhappy about TARP, the bailouts, the stimulus, and the healthcare bill - would nonetheless be singing some praise for Barry had he firmly but his boot on the jugular of the broken Bush/Cheney military, intelligence, and foreign policy doctrine. Instead, he not only kept it alive, but gave it a hand off the ground. Independents know this. Add in all the social and economic crap his administration is doing, and there is nothing for us to hang our hats on with this guy.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    Also*, I didn't think Health Care would be this bad. Sure, I knew it'd be a waste of money, but I figured when all was said and done, it'd be just your run of the mill Team Blue wast of a couple hundred billion dollars, and we'd be done with it. I didn't think it'd really be phase one of the make-all-our-doctors-move-to-mexico plan.

    *thankfully, I didn't vote for Obama. But I'll admit I thought about it.

  • ||

    +10

  • Mosquevite Sandwich||

    I believe right now, if the R's put up an imbecile and/or an establishment candidate in 2012, there may actually be a real chance for an independent (independent of any so-called fringe party) candidate for president. If the R's had any sense, they'd start adopting some of Ron Paul's candidness about the austerity needed in government. The mosque story is really fascinating and productive though.

    If the electorate was adequately angered by bailouts and bullshit, 90% of incumbents would be staying home, rather than returning to Rome. I know we need more legislative accomplishments for our rulers, but they should be turned out regularly, even before they pass on to the Congress in the sky! Spending originates in the House. It's gonna take a lot more than the Tea Party and a lot more longevity to keep an eye on the pols.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    My sense is the same as Mr. Vanneman's. Furthermore, the mood of the electorate, Tea Party member or not, hasn't changed substantially since, well, since as long as I can remember: voters want lots of government services for themselves, are relatively indifferent or opposed to government services for others and, in any case, want someone else to pay for it all.

  • Pip||

    "My sense is the same as Mr. Vanneman's"

    I suggest you eat a gun.

  • the boil on joe's butt||

    One party (Democrat, of course) should be enough for any country.

  • sarcasmic||

    The problem with the Tea Party is that they're no more specific that Barry was with his "hope and change".
    They want to cut spending, just as long as Medicare, Social Security and Defense are left alone. That's not very helpful.
    They want to cut taxes, but again are only spouting meaningless platitudes.

    What a joke.

  • ||

    * Discretionary spending: $1.368 trillion (+13.1%)
    o $663.7 billion (+12.7%) – Department of Defense (including Overseas Contingency Operations)
    o $78.7 billion (−1.7%) – Department of Health and Human Services
    o $72.5 billion (+2.8%) – Department of Transportation
    o $52.5 billion (+10.3%) – Department of Veterans Affairs
    o $51.7 billion (+40.9%) – Department of State and Other International Programs
    o $47.5 billion (+18.5%) – Department of Housing and Urban Development
    o $46.7 billion (+12.8%) – Department of Education
    o $42.7 billion (+1.2%) – Department of Homeland Security
    o $26.3 billion (−0.4%) – Department of Energy
    o $26.0 billion (+8.8%) – Department of Agriculture
    o $23.9 billion (−6.3%) – Department of Justice
    o $18.7 billion (+5.1%) – National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    o $13.8 billion (+48.4%) – Department of Commerce
    o $13.3 billion (+4.7%) – Department of Labor
    o $13.3 billion (+4.7%) – Department of the Treasury
    o $12.0 billion (+6.2%) – Department of the Interior
    o $10.5 billion (+34.6%) – Environmental Protection Agency
    o $9.7 billion (+10.2%) – Social Security Administration
    o $7.0 billion (+1.4%) – National Science Foundation
    o $5.1 billion (−3.8%) – Corps of Engineers
    o $5.0 billion (+100%) – National Infrastructure Bank
    o $1.1 billion (+22.2%) – Corporation for National and Community Service
    o $0.7 billion (0.0%) – Small Business Administration
    o $0.6 billion (−14.3%) – General Services Administration
    o $19.8 billion (+3.7%) – Other Agencies
    o $105 billion – Other

    there is all of the spending that doesn't include Social Security and Medicare. Is it your opinion that all of that spending is "meaningless"? You wouldn't be happy to see a lot of it go away?

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm saying that "Cut spending! Cut spending! No, not that spending! Cut spending! Just don't cut the spending that I like!" comes off as a bit disingenuous.

  • ||

    But isn't saying "cut spending and it must be that spending or I won't listen" just as disingenuous?

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm not making that argument.

  • creech||

    I was talking to a retired man, a tea party activist, on Saturday and he volunteered that he would gladly give up some of these benefits so his kids and grandkids wouldn't suffer.

  • sarcasmic||

    We need more like him.

  • Alice Bowie||

    This country has been polarized to the point that we don't need more Political parties, we probably need to split up the country.

    - Progressive people want to tax all for the good of all...for good or for bad. This results in stealing money from the wealthy which hurts the little guy.

    - Libertarians want to eliminate the tax system and have people take care of themselves. Those who can't can go to hell. That's all well and good as long as you are not that guy. Libertarians believe that the threat of being out on the street and no one to take care of your ailing parents or kids will motivate people. Libertarians are social moderates

    - Conservatives are identical in to Libertarians except that they feel it is ok to steal from everybody (taxes) for the purposes of war and for locking people up for j-walking and conservatives are social conservatives and religous zealots.

    We WILL NEVER find common grounds. This calls for a DIVORCE. It would be the heatlhiest thing.

    WE SHOULD HAVE NEVER FOUGHT the CIVIL WAR.

  • Pip||

    "- Libertarians want to eliminate the tax system and have people take care of themselves. Those who can't can go to hell."

    Bullshit.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Don't look at this as emotional or in the negative. Generally speaking today, If you don't have money for food, you will either starve or go to soup kitchens. However, the threat of getting there is the driver to motivate people. If you just gave everyone food/water/healthcare/safety/housing etc, nothing would get done according to many people.

  • sarcasmic||

    If you just gave everyone food/water/healthcare/safety/housing etc, nothing would get done according to many people.

    Yeah, just ask Fidel.

  • sarcasmic||

    Those who can't can go to hell.

    Libertarians oppose government sponsored charity funded by dollars confiscated from people against their will and given away based on political considerations.

    That doesn't mean libertarians oppose voluntary charity.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Voluntary charities wouldn't be enough to help those that fail. One would have to settle for those people simply 'going-to-hell' and face the consequence of these people committing crimtes.

  • sarcasmic||

    So all those bleeding heart liberals wouldn't voluntarily give generously to charities?

    You mean they only support social programs when they're forcing other people to pay for them?

    You mean that when people don't have a third to a half of their income taken off the top that they're not more likely to give to charity?

  • sarcasmic||

    I disagree and believe that voluntary charity could most definitely help those that fail.

    If you mean voluntary charity could not take care of those that fail, I would agree.

    Call me callous, but while I will give the shirt off my back to help someone who is helping themselves, I could care less about those who do not.

    If they end up in prison for resorting to force and fraud, so be it. I find that preferable to multigenerational welfare.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Whether it's in the projects or in a jail sell, the tax payer will pay for the three squares and a cot.

    And no, the selfish/mean-spirited/callous nature of some libertarians and almost all of the conservatives leads me to believe that they would probably not contribute to charity.

  • sarcasmic||

    The facts aren't on your side.

    http://tinyurl.com/265a5q8

  • Alice Bowie||

    Conservatives contribute to their own congregation at church...if you want to call that charity...I guess you are right.

  • sarcasmic||

    if you want to call that charity

    I find churches to be much more charitable than any government bureaucracy.

    Back in the dark days when I was wandering the streets with all my possessions on my back, churches helped me without question while the government wanted me to fill out reams of paperwork before being put onto some waiting list, only to be denied because I was working too much.

    That was my wake-up call when I realized that almost everything I had been taught up until that point was a lie, and that was when I decided to stop being taught and to start learning.

    That was when I ceased to be a liberal.

  • sarcasmic||

    Whether it's in the projects or in a jail sell, the tax payer will pay for the three squares and a cot.

    I'd rather they be in a jail cell than someplace where they are encouraged to make babies that tend to grow up to be losers like their loser parents.

  • CJ||

    This country has been polarized to the point that we ... probably need to split up the country.

    - Progressive people want to tax all...

    - Libertarians want to eliminate the tax system and have people take care of themselves...

    - Conservatives ... feel it is ok to steal from everybody (taxes) for the purposes of war...

    We WILL NEVER find common grounds. This calls for a DIVORCE. It would be the heatlhiest thing.


    In this much, at least, I completely agree. I don't know why it is that people cling to their notions that the country has to remain as the United States when everybody loathes the beliefs of at least half the population.

    Well, okay, I do know. It's because splitting the country is an enormous task that nobody wants to even think about the logistics of handling. And that's unfortunate.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I'm not convinced that the Tea Party is or was motivated by race. Nor am I convinced that its members hold anything resembling a principled libertarian position.

  • Cap'n NoStar||

    Hugh,
    Where I came from, the Tea Party is run by libertarian Ron Paul supporters.
    Where I currently live, it is run by people who don't know that Haley Barber is a RINO.
    Your mileage may vary.

  • Max||

    Americans want a third party? Oh my God, this could be the libertarian Party's big chance to finally poll more than the Communist Party did in its hay day. Fuck, comrades, let's get moving!

  • Max||

    Whee. Whee. Wheeeee.

  • ||

    Alt Text: Swing Vote.

    ...no "Y'all"?

  • ||

    We should remember that the last viable third party the US got was the Republican party. and that party came from the anti-slavery wing of the whigs(spelling?).

    It really seems organic to me to be a wing or caucus of an existing party. How hard is it to put Tea Party Republican on a ballot...or Blue Dog Democrat...or Libertarian Democrat...

    If the problem is that the two party system is intractable then why not simply admit it and start bending the system organically and from within.

    It is not as if republicans or democrats have any real ideology...and are more parties tendencies then parties of ideologies. Just choose the tendency you like then make a sub-party within it.

  • ||

    I should also note i live in Washington state and this election season is the first real election in which the two top vote winners make the general. I don't know about the blue counties but in my very red county there are lots of republicans running against republicans in the general election.

    What is even more interesting is that many candidates put modifiers in their preferred party column. such as tea party republican.

    It is not a third party but it allows candidates to differentiate from their their party. and gives a whole bunch of power to the anti-incumbents that was not there previously.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    very interesting. hadn't heard about that.

    I wish putting any party affiliation at all on the ballot was prohibited. Would probably protect incumbents to a degree (name recogntion), but when picking a guy to fill a newly open slot, would insure that only people who actually knew what was going on would really affect things. People who vote a certain way just because that's how their family and friends vote would tend to be nothing more than noise.

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