Third Parties

Reason-Rupe Poll Finds Opportunity for Third-Party Presidential Candidate


The latest Reason-Rupe poll results reveal a potential opportunity for a third-party presidential candidate. Seventy two percent of Americans say they would or might consider voting for a third-party presidential candidate, while 48 percent of Americans say they would support a presidential candidate who was "conservative on economic issues and liberal on social issues." Eighteen percent of Americans said they would strongly support such a candidate, and this is presuming the candidate ran under the banner of a third party. Finally, 37 percent of Americans said they would consider voting for a third-party Tea Party candidate if she or he entered the race against President Barack Obama and the Republican nominee in 2012. These are significant chunks of the population willing to consider and potentially vote for a non-conventional candidate.

Several factors are likely driving this support for non-conventional presidential candidates.

First, there is overwhelming evidence that the American electorate breaks down into more than just simple liberal or conservative blocs. ABC News analyst Matthew Dowd finds that 51 percent of Americans do not fit into conventional liberal or conservative buckets. Gallup finds that at least 44 percent of Americans do not fit this mold. The Reason-Rupe poll also finds that 44 percent do not fit this conventional division. These numbers suggest that traditional Democratic or Republican presidential candidates may not represent the political views of nearly half of all American voters.

Second, Dowd also explains how Obama's low presidential approval ratings combined with the GOP presidential candidates' inability to appeal to Independents may create a ripe environment for a third-party candidate to enter the race.

However, it is important to be clear that as a result of our electoral structure, a third-party candidate is not likely to win a general election. Nevertheless, Americans' willingness—if not downright eagerness—to support a third-party candidate signals that a non-conventional presidential candidate may be able to win one of the two major parties' presidential nominations. This also might explain how a candidate such as Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), once considered a very remote longshot, is now third in the GOP race for president according to the latest Gallup poll results.

Preferences for the 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination as of August 2011
Based on Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents

Note: Ballot support for both announced and potential GOP presidential candidates.
Source: Gallup and Gallup

If the Tea Party ran its own candidate against President Obama and the Republican nominee in the 2012 presidential election, would you consider voting for him or her?

Vote for Third Party Presidential Candidate?

Would you consider voting for an independent or third-party candidate for president in 2012?

Vote for Third Party Presidential Candidate?

Generally speaking, would you support or oppose an independent or third-party candidate who described him or herself as "conservative on economic issues" and "liberal on social issues"? 

Vote for Third Party Presidential Candidate?

Click here for full survey results.

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9th-18th 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79%. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Click here for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll's fieldwork. View full methodology.

NEXT: Originalism vs. Judicial Restraint

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  1. the wingnutz could nominate jay-sus then the establishment clause would be pre-emptively NOT included

  2. tell us about ur many wonderful plans

  3. Here we go.

  4. How is “Maybe I would consider doing X” different from “I would consider doing X”? Doesn’t “consider” already take care of the “maybe”?

    Also, alt-text please.

  5. “Third Party Candidate” = “Third Place Candidate”

    1. TR came in second in the 1912 election.

      1. Abe Lincoln won as a third party candidate.

        1. Of course, the two major parties hadn’t figured out how to completely game the system yet.

          1. You’re joking right?

            1. Oh, I’m sorry, is the Whig party still a major force in modern politics? I must’ve missed that.

    2. American Status Quo = Third World Nation

  6. “We ignore politics most of the time.”

  7. I would say that the democrats have been inoculated by Nader and this explains why they are not as independent.

    I also think there is something to what George Will said a few days (weeks?) back about how the republicans have no gate keepers since Goldwater won the nomination.

    This is not entirely true in that the Tea Party has now become at least a weak Gatekeeper and there is of course Grover’s pledge.

    Then you throw in other gatekeepers like David Brooks and the editorial staff of Fox news and Rush refusing to acknowledge that Ron Paul even exists.

    Still the last few have proven to be mostly ineffectual…the Tea Party and Grover being the only two with any real blocking effect….and they do it by being Lazar focused on specific issues…More like litmus tests then being true gatekeepers.

    1. The contrary to what some may want to believe, the GOP cannot be reformed. There is simply too much money and power involved. (Citizens United) They have used the Tea Party like a condom, simply to get in and be discarded after they regain a majority and possibly the White House. How’d that debt ceiling fiasco go for Republicans??? The GOP is controlled by old-school-war-mongering-globalist-neocons, and that will never change! Go third party or go back to your passivity.

  8. Would you consider voting for an independent or third-party candidate for president in 2012?

    There is a 75% chance that i will vote for a third party (Libertarian)…and the only reason i give that small of number is because I think Ron Paul has a 25% chance of getting the republican nomination.

    1. Ron Paul in the primaries, and libertarian in the general, whoever that may end up being.

  9. American needs a revolution, voting for a Democrat or a Republican is not revolutionary, it is business as usual.” – Jim Knapp

    “It doesn’t matter who the people voted for; they always? voted for us.” ~Joseph Stalin,

    Search Facebook: “Third Party Patriots”

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