Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

Republicans Show Historic Support for Third Parties



Some interesting findings from Gallup:

Gallup has always found political independents to be most desirous of a third party, and 68% currently are. But right now there is also a significant party gap, with 52% of Republicans favoring a third party, compared with 33% of Democrats.

This is the first time Gallup finds a significantly higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats in favor of a third party. During much of President Bush's term, the opposite was true, with Democrats more likely to favor the formation of a third party. That gap narrowed in 2007, after the Democrats' victories in the 2006 midterms, and there has been a minimal difference between the two parties until the current poll.

Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit chews the cud:

Nothing I can do is going to change anything now

My assumption is that partisan support for a third party should spike when a party is out of power and has nothing to lose by splitting (or flirting with splitting) over ideology. That's what you're seeing, I think, in the Democratic trend line from 2003 to 2006: Anti-war liberals were frustrated that their leadership hadn't done more to check Bush and to convince the public that progressivism is the truth, the light, and the way, so they fantasized about going rogue. Once Democrats took back Congress, they put that aside and focused on influencing the new congressional majority. And indeed, you see a dip from 2006 to 2008, when Pelosi took over and everyone rallied behind their party's nominee in a presidential election year. Conversely, partisan support for a third party should crater when a party is in power and looking to hold together to preserve its legislative majority — or so I would have guessed. But neither the Democratic nor the Republican trend line follows that prediction. From 2008 to 2010, despite total control of government, Democrats' support for a third party rose seven points. Republican support for a third party also rose by seven points when they had total control of government from 2003 to 2006; my hunch is that's because conservatives rallied around Bush after 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, which artificially depressed third-party support at the beginning of the decade. But check out the numbers from 2010 to 2011, after the great tea party tidal wave: An increase of five points, notwithstanding the fact that Boehner and company now have de facto veto power over the Democratic agenda.

My three cents: 1) Economic suckage from 2008-201X has also soured voters on the two major parties; 2) the Tea Party so far, in contrast to the Dean-screaming anti-war left, has resisted being domesticated by the Mother Party; and 3) all the long-term public opinion trends are pointing in the same unmistakeable direction–away from one of the last long-term duopolies left standing in American life.

Nevermind the bullet points!

All three of these points get major play in The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America, the Nick Gillespie/Matt Welch joint that you should be pre-ordering early and often. Stressed often there is the potency of political independence: Not only does your main policy issue remain in the public discussion (instead of being swallowed by the Borg), but you also have an easier time sidestepping the kind of pitfalls that bedevil the partisan, team-first mind.

Does all of this mean we're going to see some hot third party action in 2012? No. But what it does indicate, as explained well by Reason Polling Director Emily Ekins below, is that while all the systemic biases toward binary politics remain, Americans are clearly yearning for more real variety within the major parties. And when someone finally figures out a way to breach the duopoly, that water's gonna flood through fast.

Read more about the Reason-Rupe poll here, and watch it explained below:

NEXT: The Politics of Protection

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  1. I think a third party is a great idea. Peel off everyone but the so cons from the Republicans and leave each side with about thirty percent of the vote and give Obama an electoral landslide.

    1. We have no choice but to elect a war mongering idiot who will grow the govt at 10%/year forever, because otherwise the left will elect a warmongering idiot who will grow the govt at 15%/yr forever.

      1. Tough shit Johnny, sometimes life is like that. I am just telling you reality. If you don’t like it, go live in a different reality. Just take me with you when you find it.

        1. Tough shit Johnny, sometimes life is like that.

          W/ an attitude toward disagreement like that from their buttboys, I can’t imagine why people would want an alternative to the two major parties.

          1. I would like an alternative. But I am telling you the day there is a third party, one of the two existing parties will get pretty much unchecked power of the country. That is reality. And it is some tough shit. I didn’t say it was good. I said it was the way it is.

            1. …hence John’s ongoing support for the Whig party.

              1. Yes, parties do die. But to create a new party, you have to you know actually convince people of your ideas. And the fact is not that many people are fully Libertarian. There are some consensus on a few Libertarian ideas. But not on that many. To get anywhere Libertarians are going to have to compromise. And that is not a good role for them.

                1. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.
                  -Ayn Rand

                  1. John is just upset over the possibility that a 3rd party may not share the other two parties’ support for endless warfare. Watching us bomb some hapless 3rd worlders is they only way he can get an erection nowadays. That, and Suki slashfic.

                    1. Yeah Johnny, that is it. And good luck with ending all the wars when “your guy” gets in there. You might want to talk to a few peacenik Democrats about how that works out. Amazingly enough the enemy gets a vote too. We don’t get peace until he says we do.

                      But I am sure it will be different when you get your Obamasiah in there.

                    2. I’m not sure why you think hammering “your guy may not fix anything”. While true, you pretty much admit your guys WON’T, and will just slide us into the abyss a few years later.

                      A GOP not cutting spending fast enough to suit me would justify your arguments. The GOP we have now won;t.

                      The endless wars is pretty much the only thing that could split both parties, which is why you fear that.

                    3. ETA: I’m not sure why you think hammering “your guy may not fix anything” gets you anything.

                    4. Johnny, the endless wars didn’t come out of nowhere. You don’t think Obama wanted to end the wars and take credit for it? He got in there and he found out things were not so simple. Once again, the enemy gets a vote too.

                    5. You don’t think Obama wanted to end the wars and take credit for it?

                      You think Obama was telling the truth during the election, and you think OTHER’S are being unrealistic?

                    6. I think it’s more likely he realized that while peace can be handy for a candidate, war is better for a president. Maybe the conventional wisdom will eventually change. More powerful states would probably check this, as they don’t share in war-glory or war-power but do have to cover war-costs.

                  2. and she outta know with her atheist, “me-first” mentality

                    1. damn you squirrels (shakes fistises)!

                    2. damn you squirrels (shakes fistises)!

                2. “fully libertarian” = anarchist

                  1. Libertarians may be economic anarchists as far as allowing people to set their own rules when interaction is voluntary, but that doesn’t mean there is no role for government in reacting to force and fraud.

                    1. My gang is bigger than yours. Now down on all fours!

        2. Shorter John

          “Damnit, you have to choose a car. Both will crash and kill you, but you can’t let the one car kill you faster.”

          1. Maybe so lost. Maybe we are doomed. That is certainly a possibility. But sitting around believing in the Libertarian Unicorn Fairy to come and save us is one way to deal with it I guess.

            1. “I know my husband beats me, but where else would I go?”

              1. The world sucks Johnny. And politics sucks even worse. I would think you guys would know that better than anyone. I swear you sound like a Democrat sometimes you have so much faith in politicians.

                1. I have no faith in them at all, hence my lack of a belief that GOPers are the only thing that can save us from Dems.

                  1. Yeah but you think a third party would do better? They will still be politicians.

                    1. Maybe enough turnover to make a 3rd party workable, enough breaking of the two party logjam, might do the trick. Your plan is just us becoming Venezuela 10 years later, if that, than we would under the Dems.

                    2. And maybe unicorns will fly out of your ass too Johnny. IF a third party were workable the Libertarian Party would get more than a few hundred thousand votes every four years.

                    3. Do the words “self fulfilling prophesy” mean anything to you?

                    4. “They will still be politicians.”

                      The saying is that power corrupts.
                      I disagree.
                      I say that power attracts those who are already corrupt, or at least corruptible.

                    5. You are sadly correct sarcasmic. Also I think history takes on a momentum of its own. As Tolstoy says, “great men are just the names we give to great historical events”.

              2. Go talk to *insert rival atheltic team*, I hear they never beat anyone!

                har har har

                1. Dammit! That was a reply to Johnny’s first response…

  2. The polls that show people wanting to vote for a third party don’t matter unless they are all willing to vote for the same third party or you get enough third parties to make it even. Four parties (say a libertarian, Republican, Democrat, and a hard left commmie party) would be interesting. Any combination of three parties would just hand one side unmitigated power, which is never a good idea.

    1. Four parties (say a libertarian, Republican, Democrat, and a hard left commmie party) would be interesting.

      Interesting in that there might be a plurality of those quartered voters out there who think central planning is a good idea? I suppose that wouldn’t be dull.

      1. If both the Republicans and Democrats were split by a second party, it would be a fair fight. Honestly, I am not sure how it would work out. But if you get a “third party”, you know how that will work; whichever side the party comes from is screwed and the side that is united gets really undeserved power.

        1. What if the “third” candidate doesn’t actually “come from” a party? You know, a true independent? That day is coming. Nobody knows exactly when.

          1. It has already happened, it was called Ross Perot. And he just ensured one side got in without winning a majority. And even if he had won, it wouldn’t have made a dime’s worth of difference because he would have been friendless in Congress.

            You guys act like we are electing a King instead of a President. Suppose Ron Paul ran as a third party candidate and won. How would he ever get anything through Congress?

            1. So we’d have four years with little new legislation being passed.

              I fail to see why that would be a bad thing.

              Sure it would be better if we had four years of legislation being repealed. But that will never happen as long as our elected representatives call themselves “lawmakers”.

              1. If only life were that simple.

            2. Ross Perot was a billionaire and could have won easily if he had wanted. His lame excuse for leaving the race then coming back to late was all a pansy scheme to get Clinton elected. It was planned that way, hello!

          2. Any “third” candidate will be more closely identified with one of the established parties than the other, and as a result the other will win.

            1. It has already happened, it was called Ross Perot.

              Ah, I see. History repeats itself. Exactly. End of discussion. Everybody go home.

          3. Ahhh, the coming of the “Strong Man”.

            1. + 1 Hayek.

      2. Isn’t that how Canada became a socialist hell hole? Didn’t the Right in Canada split into two parties leaving the field to the Left?

        1. obviously canada has its horrible health care system, but relative to most european countries canada as a whole is a lot closer to the US than europe.

          1. True. But it is a lot further left than it probably ought to be. I want to say their Right had some kind of a crackup. But I may be making that up.

            1. Well, the left had the most recent crack up. Which is why the other left party is now the #2 party.

              1. say she who fly upside down have crack up

          2. Canada has private air traffic controllers and aviation safety (TSA) firms, don’t they?

    2. No, the Republican party as it stands is useless. It needs to break into three pieces: the Libertarian Party members, the Constitution Party members, and the mushy bullshit establishment fucks can merge with what’s left of the Democrats. The Dems can fragment off into the Green Party.

      1. The Democrats won’t fragment. They will just take over and turn the country into Venezuela. Honestly, I think that is what a lot of Libertarians want. And I don’t mean they want things to get really bad so that someday they will get better, although that is a popular fantasy. They won’t it to get really bad and stay that way forever because it is more fun to be out of power and be able to tell everyone how right you are than it is to actually accomplish things.

        1. You’re Chock Full O’ Theories?. Does anyone keep a running tally on the intertubes of all the right prognostications and all the wrong ones? That would be entertaining and useful. The crackpot guy with the highest score gets to be president.

          1. There were 3 correct prognostications. Nobody has a calculator to figure out the precise number of wrong ones. It exceeded 1xE99.

            1. It exceeded 1xE99.

              I don’t know what that means but it sounds big.

              1. That would be a one with ninety nine zeroes after it if I am not mistaken.

                1. It’s way too small, then.

                  1. sounds like a personal problem

          2. I guess I hit a nerve. Thanks for providing an example of just the kind of person I am talking about.

        2. Right…because this is playing out just as it did in Venezuela. John, take out the paper bag and breathe in and out into it for a while until you stop hyperventilating.

          1. You don’t think if the Democrats had a filibuster proof majority in Congress and the Whitehouse for a five or ten years, we wouldn’t turn into Venezuela? I do. At best we would turn into Peron Argentina. And we may end up there anyway.

            1. First of all, White House is two words. And B, we are becoming a nation of slightly taller Mexicans. The end.

              1. You got something against Mexicans? I don’t know where you came from, but racism really isn’t tolerated on these boards.

                1. Mexican is a race? I did not know that.

                  1. Viva La Raza!

                    1. While everyone’s looking south, that shifty Canadian race will take over. Just wait.

            2. Don’t cry for me…

        3. “actually accomplish things”

          Yes like nationalized health care, education and high-speed rail!

  3. Has anyone noted yet that Third Eye Blind would make a great name for a band?

  4. The system is not set up to handle more than two parties because you can either win or lose, not get representation equal to your percentage vote. In any case though, no politician owns the votes he seeks, so if I have to choose between a bible beating neo-con republican and a union loving, single payer adoring democrat, I’ll vote for a rational third party candidate that will get .5% of the vote every time.

    1. Canada and UK, despite being parliaments, have multi-party races with a very similar voting system.

      They dont have proportional representation either.

      1. But in any given district it is usually the case that only two parties compete. In Scotland its Labor or SNP, in England, you either have torrie/ labor districs, labor/ Lib Dem, or Torrie/ Lib dem. In Quebec, you have quebecau (or however you spell it) or labor. In the west you NDP or Conservatives.

        Voters over the years have become startegic. There are few districts in Canada or the UK where 3 or more parties actually are viable.

        1. Bloc Quebecwhatever almost got entirely whiped out this time by the NDP.

  5. a 3rd is a great idea; I wish someone would form one 🙂

    1. Not in a million years Warty, not in a million years…..

      1. I see your horrible preteen pop, and I raise you pedophilia.

  6. How about not voting? At least you won’t be giving Democrats and Republicans the illusion that they have popular mandate if only 50% of the people show up to vote.

    1. A non-vote is a vote nonetheless. People at news networks and blogs and other useless information-spewing entities tally the numbers and pontificate about their true meaning and implications for the future of the universe. So it must be meaningful.

  7. Would the progressives ever splinter though?

    If anything, it looks like the Blue Dogs may finally go- “Y’know what? Fuck y’all” and split off, as they are largely from more vulnerable districts than many Dems in the Congress, who, as a result of their safe seats, are increasingly going progressive.

    1. The Blue Dogs aren’t any picnic. Most of them seem like sophisticated versions of Huckabee. It when it comes to nut cutting time, they always vote with the liberals. Even someone like Jim Webb showed himself to be a turd when it mattered.

      1. You should have your own show. Wait, this is your show. I keed. Who loves ya’, babe.

      2. Blue Dogs merge with the socons, most likely.

        And one likely result of a 3 party system is no party ever having a majority in congress, which wouldnt be a bad thing. If the other 2 could always filibuster the senate, but 1 party couldnt, that wouldnt necessarily be the worst possible outcome.

        1. Like I said above, four parties would be interesting. Four real parties with each of them having people in Congress. A socon party of big government Republicans and Blue dogs. A more western small government party. A Union and public employee based Democratic Party. And a hard left Naderite Party.

          1. So, we go from two statist parties to three?

            Not liking that math, John.

            1. True. But you would hope that the Naderites would be good on the drug war and civil liberties and the SOCONs would be good on economic liberties. The Union Dems wouldn’t be good on anything, which is a problem.

              1. I think the unions would be more socially liberal on some things than the Naderites. Mostly smoking/drinking related.

                My favorite labor anecdote: So, in the very beginnings of the Soviet Union, before the crackdown had really begun on any dissent, they had a conference for labor leaders. One of the guys there is from the United Mine Workers- big ass, burly motherfucker. And he’s smoking a cigar, and all the Russians are giving him shit about how it’s a bourgeoisie conceit, etc.

                So he rolls up his sleeves, leans forward, and barks, “There’s nothing too good for the American working man!”

              2. the SOCONs would be good on economic liberties

                I doubt it. They arent now.

  8. Why exactly are political parties per se needed?

  9. People can say they are ready for a third party but then they get to the voting booth and the fear of the propaganda enters their mind and they think if they vote for a third party they will split the vote and give it to the party they hate to see win. Until people realize there is no difference in the two major parties, we’ll never conquer this beast of big govt.

  10. Any combination of three parties would just hand one side unmitigated power

    Take a look out the window, John; that’s what we have right now. The Big Government Party is in charge, and any intramural distinctions are purely window dressing.

  11. They will just take over and turn the country into Venezuela.

    And who gassed up the car and tossed them the keys?

  12. Splitter! Splits!!

  13. If you want a Third Party, the nascent third party has to convince people to change the rules of the game to break the partisan “vote for the marginally lesser evil” idiocy as represented by John (the good news is that, if it doesn’t favor one party over another, those that belong to a party but hate it can support this as well as true indeps).

    One way would be to get away from exclusive voting, and let everyone rate a candidate (a simple good/bad/not sure would do). Add up the yes votes, subtract the no votes, and whoever has the highest sum wins. It reduces the need for parties greatly, though they will still have a role in branding candidates as “Party-approved” for the lazy, as well as providing campaign resources.

    For Republicans and Democrats, there is still a benefit in that they can save the cost of primaries and they don’t have to worry about third party spoiler candidates.

    For third parties, the main benefit is if that there’s no longer any concern about a third party candidate “stealing” votes from a mainstream candidate, those that truly support third parties over the mainstream parties could feel free to express their political beliefs openly rather playing cynical games. Even so, third parties would probably not win many elections, but that’s why they’re third parties.

  14. I propose starting a 3rd Party with just one plank: upon taking office I will spike all the Congressional drinking water with a date rape drug that will put the members of Congress ‘out’ for 24 hours and then dump 150 million condoms and 150 million Kong size party favors on the Mall. BYOB.

  15. I find that conservatives are solution oriented people. If the R’s won’t work for them they’ll turn to what will.


  16. The TEA PARTY will dismantle Sanctuary City policies, the educational dream Act and unseat all pro-illegal immigrant Lawmakers, Governors, Mayors and those involved in this travesty. The second revolution has begun by THE TEA PARTY that will condemn any more free giveaways to illegal aliens. The American People are the Tea Party, comprising of every legal nationality, religion and race. They are disillusioned, angry Republicans, Democrat, Liberal, Independents and minority parties. The TEA PARTY are the Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Sen. Rand Pauls and the Rev. William Temples who are the engineers towards a third party. You should join this splinter party from the wilting RINO Republicans, who with Democrats are eroding this countries greatness. Highly skilled workers should be given immediate special entry visas, who have positions in reputable companies; these top of the cream individuals, will cost taxpayers nothing. Currently however, some plausible 20 million foreign aliens are indigent and replaced by American-legal resident low educated, minimum wage labor who should receive absolute priority.

    Attn: Donate to Arizona’s border fence, by just typing in to Google: Arizona Governor Brewer.

    There must be further mandatory oversight of one election process, as there was rampant fraud in 3 States and the administration is unconcerned about future voting by illegal aliens.

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