Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

Poll: Third-Party Voters Side With Democrats on Police and Foreign Policy and with Republicans on Economics


Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

If November's election for Congress were held today, 42 percent of registered voters say they would vote for the Democratic candidate in their district, 33 percent would vote for the Republican in their district, 13 percent would vote third party, and 11 percent don't know whom they'd vote for yet, according to the latest Reason-Rupe poll.

One may notice these results diverge from Real Clear Politics' 2014 Generic Congressional Vote aggregator which finds among likely voters, 45.3 say they plan to vote Republican and 43.5 percent Democratic.

What explains the difference?

Reason-Rupe offers respondents the option to select a third-party candidate while other polls offer the two-party choices and then ask undecided voters which way they lean. (For instance, see these Fox News, and Gallup polls). There's nothing wrong with asking about only two parties, and will likely yield a more predictive result. However, offering a third-party option reveals which voters are most dissatisfied with the two-party candidate choices, and thus who is at high risk of defection come Election Day.

The fact that a third-party candidate could win or influence the election in several races (e.g. Kansas or North Carolina) demonstrates the importance of identifying the likely "defectors."

Who wants to vote third party?

Our data suggests likely third-party "defectors" might otherwise be potential Republican voters, given that other polls find the parties tied except when a third-party option is made available. But that doesn't mean these voters are Republicans either.

Third party voters tend to be disproportionately younger, male, independent, leaning left, but also lean libertarian on the size of government.

Third-party voters come from both the partisan left and right, and are slightly more representative of Independent-leaning Democrats (34% v 17% national) than Independent-leaning Republicans (18% v 10% national). Nevertheless, they tend to agree with Republicans on the size of government and are as likely as the national sample to be tea party supporters.

When it comes to attitudes toward the police, criminal justice reform, and foreign policy, third-party voters tend to side with Democrats. (See Table) These voters are less favorable of the police (61%), believe the police are not held accountable for misconduct (54%), favor restoring voting rights to non-violent drug offenders (82%), and allowing such offenders to petition a court to have their records sealed (50%).

When it comes to the US combatting ISIS, third-party voters are about as skeptical of air strikes as Democrats (28%), although a majority still favor (64%) their use. Also like Democrats, these voters (52%) oppose sending ground troops to combat ISIS.

However, on economic issues, third-party voters act more like Republicans. These voters tend to say we should pay for military action against ISIS primarily by cutting spending (41%) rather than raising taxes on the wealthy (33%), and that we should lower corporate taxes (54%). Also similar to Republicans, third-party voters say its is acceptable for a business to move states to lower its tax load (73%).

Third-party voters also align with Republicans on the size of government. In a complete reverse from Democrats, 64 percent of third-party voters prefer a smaller government offering fewer services, while 29 percent prefer larger government providing more services (29%). Similarly, 63 percent say free markets solve problems better than a strong government (33%).

Third-party voters are also the only political group in which a majority support allowing unvaccinated children to attend public schools (54%).

What does this mean?

These third-party voters, who likely pose the greatest electoral risk to Republicans, have a marked libertarian streak. They favor constraining government's economic and policing powers and are relatively less interventionist militarily. These data provide a strong indication that Republicans looking to win back votes from likely defectors may need to expand their issue priorities to include criminal justice reform, but also to moderate their positions on foreign policy. 

The Reason-Rupe national telephone poll, executed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, conducted live interviews with 1004 adults on cell phones (503) and landlines (501) October 1-6, 2014. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.8%. Full poll results can be found here. including poll toplines (pdf)  and crosstabs (xls). 

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  1. It always amazes me how Libertarians miss the message they SHOULD be getting on polls like this, when it comes to what a third party might latch onto.

    All other people know that there is much agreement on many issues between those on the left and Libertarians...military spending, social issues, police, foreign policy, pot legalization, and more.

    But the one issue that you all really only care about is government, particularly when it comes to taxes. You think that is the only issue that matters, and you even get it wrong as to what most Americans want when it comes to taxes...they want taxes raised on the most affluent...a question you didn't ask.

    But when it comes to the role of government, at best (according to your own poll) the results are muddled...certainly not as clear as the other issues. On the role of government, there is only a 7 or 8 point swing. That's it. But to you all, that's all that matters.

    And that is why you will never even be a viable third party alternative. Time to wake up.

    1. Libertarian political philosophy isn't based off jumping promoting a populist agenda to attain political power.

      1. Then do tell what the purpose of this article was.

      2. But I must admit you have hit on my biggest complaint about Libertarians. Rather than find your way to win elections, which you ultimately will have to do (right?), you would rather be ideologically pure than to do the dreaded...compromise.

        You just can't see your way to moving the scrimmage line further a yard at a only want the homerun ball.

        Like I said, you will forever be an afterthought then.

        1. Claiming to support positions to simply win power is called corruption. That you can't comprehend why people would have principals and be honest about them is telling.

          1. Then have fun on the sidelines...compromise is corruption, eh? Good luck.

        2. Actually, what this article is saying is that if Republicans want to win, they need to cater more to Libertarians. It shows that Republicans need libertarians in the fold in order to beat Democrats. It's the same idea as saying that politicians from both sides much cater to the middle in order to win independent or undecided voters even though those voters are the minority.

          Libertarians are much more influential than you might expect. That's the point of this article.

          1. Well, certainly that's one way to look at it. But let's face it, the GOP has the majority of Libertarians locked up. I would be willing to guess that by far most here vote GOP in nearly every election, and will continue to do so (you?).

            But I will stay with my original point. Libertarians ARE a third party. That is who you are, by definition. Each one of you already compromises when you pull that lever for a GOP candidate (guess Mark doesn't).

            If you want to advance as a party that vies with the other two, you will need to win elections. That is life, and forever has it been thus.

            You might be better served trying to attract similar thinking lefties (and there are many) in order to do so. And that might mean emphasizing things other than government size and taxes. You can work on those incrementally after you win.

            There probably has never been a better chance than right now for a third party to actually win an election. If you stay ideologically pure, it won't be you.

            1. Attracting similar thinking leftists is actually really good advice. I know from personal experience. I was a fairly standard Democrat, then began to move further and further left. Ironically, it was encountering radical leftist writings from the 1800s that converted me to libertarianism. Here was a group of people that had the concerns of modern statist leftism, but were adamant that the only way to solve them was to diminish the state. Honestly, my left-wing sensibilities haven't changed much, but my thoughts toward authority and the political process flipped 180 degrees.

            2. Jackand Ace|10.15.14 @ 10:47AM|#
              "I would be willing to guess that by far most here vote GOP in nearly every election, and will continue to do so (you?)."

              Hint, you slimy piece of shit; that's because you're an ignorams.

        3. But I must admit you have hit on my biggest complaint about Libertarians.

          That they're not Democrats?

    2. In the article, is say that 33% believe we should raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for war against ISIS. So yes. They did ask what Americans was when it comes to taxes. 41% wants to cut spending. 33% wants to raise taxes on the wealthy. Apparently 26% thinks we should just borrow the money or raise taxes on everyone.

      1. I'll put it this GENERAL, Americans want taxes raised on the wealthy...period. And that comes out in every poll. Here is one:

        By 2 to 1...and its not so much to pay for any one program in general...its just that Americans know we are in debt, and that the wealthy can afford to pay a bit more.

        I really think Libertarians run and hide from that fact about what Americans want.

        1. What American's in general think, and what is right, don't necessarily match up. In this case, raising taxes on those who you believe can afford it is like putting a band aid on a bullet wound. It does nothing to keep the size of government manageable and also has many negative effects on the economy. So yes. Libertarians will continue to promote cutting the size and influence of government because they have principles. Republicans will continue to promote cutting the size and influence of government programs that are popular with Democrats and vice versa because neither of them do have any principles.

          1. You have to appeal to the majority of Americans in order to win elections, and you only change the country by winning elections.

            I never said you should lose your principles...what I am saying is that you have to win elections, and you may have a better chance at doing that by becoming a VIABLE third party (not one that just criticizes everyone else) through attracting a more natural constituency, and that may be many on the left. You think it can only be with those on the right.

            I think you are wrong. But have at it.

            1. Hard to switch tactics in the middle of Paul's presidential campaign. It's certainly a Plan B though

          2. "Libertarians will continue to promote cutting the size and influence of government because they have principles"

            No, it's because Libertarians are narcissists AND authoritarians, meaning not only do they always think they are beautiful, but are very sure it's fine to force others to think that way.

            This brainwashing is done by the usual starting and running vast numbers of "astroturf" organizations and institutions to appeal to every possible disenfranchised voter from outright white supremacists to those who just follow their own selfish desires to be taxed less (even if it doesn't pay even the existing bills).

            As a very famous and righteous man once taught me "If it costs money, it's not spiritual (or, in this case, principled).

            This goes for scientology, the mormon church and the fact that "Libertarians" need to be supported by Koch, Scaife and hundreds of millions of dollars...and even then, they end up with BS such as many of the articles here.

            Anyone with 1/2 a brain knows that writers can't do a decent job unless the subject is truly dear to them - getting paid to churn out BS just doesn't make it.

            1. See what you did JackandAce? You encouraged it, and it went straight to peak derp, no warm up required.

    3. And that is why you will never even be a viable third party alternative. Time to wake up.

      No, they'll never be a viable third party alternative because we have a winner takes all, two party system, due to the way the constitution sets it up. It always stabilizes to a two party system. That's why America has always been a two party system. It's not just a coincidence over the last 200 years or so.

      That's why I find it completely boring to talk about issues under a framework of how people are going to vote. It's so ridiculous that it almost has no bearing. For example, you've already pointed out that democrats and libertarians can agree about a lot, so one would think that, in a reasonable democracy, they should have some representation, based on people who think that way but who also value a limited government, instead of absolutely none at all.

      In other words, whose to say that, in a democracy, a party that only has a 7-8% swing on it's issues deserves absolutely no representation, despite widespread agreement on many issues with both major parties? I would think that people who care about democracy (perhaps, parties that label themselves as such) would care about that. Unfortunately, it's just a slogan.

      1. Well, its seems you have 2 choices. One, continue with education of the American public (nothing wrong with that), and run the risk of really relegating yourself to think tank status. It might work, but at best its going to take a LONG time.

        Or, you can attempt to actually win elections, and then maybe implement some of the changes you would like in not only policy, but also the election process. And quite honestly, this election cycle just might be the best time for it to occur.

        My only point is that for me, the best approach is to actually win an election and start the change step by step. Rand Paul just might be the guy to do it, but you all will probably have to be resigned to him compromising away some Libertarian principles. If he gets rejected by the GOP (and I think he will be), he just might prove to be viable in a third party. But he still will have to compromise some there as well.


        1. IMHO, I think trying to achieve libertarian goals through political action is a fool's errand. Government is a tool for tyrants and authoritarians who wish to boss people around, and the gates for entry in that are set up to screen out people who care about liberty. As it exists, the government is a sledgehammer being swung through society, practically everyone has an opinion on which direction to swing it, and everyone just wants to fight over the handle. Libertarians are some of the few people in the world who realize that the best answer is, in most cases, to put the sledge hammer down. People who love swinging sledge hammers don't go for that.

          Personally, I do the best I can to respect the choices and liberty of the people in my life. Given a sufficiently free society and economy, then, over time, the state will become more and more irrelevant. It'll be too easy to get around the state without the state throwing its mask off and going completely totalitarian, and it's hard to hold on to democracy slogans and pretend "mandates from the people" with that going on.

          I think that's a much more likely outcome than libertarian wins in elections.

          1. ^This. It is hopeless to achieve libertarian ends through authoritarian means.

          2. "Given a sufficiently free society and economy, then, over time, the state will become more and more irrelevant"

            I would opine that this is happening with pot legalization, gay marriage and many other parts of society and law.

            But it depends on your definition of "the state". Some crazies here would say that having to obtain car insurance is a Big Gubment attack on your freedoms...whereas, in truth the opposite is true....that is, it's the lesser of the evils, the other choice being damaged parties unable to obtain relief in a simple way for a common occurrence.

            Radical Libertarians are very hard to talk to since they will claim that insurance premium is extracted at the point of a gun or something like that.

            1. Unable to obtain relief? I wasn't aware we'd abolished small claims court, liability, damages, liens and attachments, etc.

              Must've been an executive order.

      2. I guess I am saying this...compromising toward the left just might be a better alternative than toward the right. I know for sure that is a minority opinion around here, but its what I see.

        1. I think you're mistaking how third parties work in a two party system.

          Third parties rarely win elections and upset the system. Rather, as a third party becomes popular, or wins on a certain issue, one of the two parties in the two-party system take up its position as their own.

          For example, you've pointed out all the ways that "liberals" and libertarians agree on a lot, including the drug war. Hypothetically, democrats could move against the drug war, and I think they might, despite their unwillingness to do so in the past, despite the fact that libertarians have been talking about it for decades. Is it not a third party victory in a two party system when one of the two parties concedes that you're exactly right?

          On that issue, as well as others,, I do suspect that democrats and republicans, to some extent, can catch up to where libertarians have been right all along for years. Some libertarians just can't vote along with the mouth breathers while they wait. Personally, I never vote.

          1. "despite their unwillingness to do so in the past, despite the fact that libertarians have been talking about it for decades"

            Would you like pictures of us protesting for legalization in 1970? Were Libertarians a big factor then? Strange, I didn't see them. At the time, current libertarians were attending John Birch Society meetings or in their momma's womb.

            Dollars to donuts you could ask NORML which party was most active in their group and in general decrim and legalization donations and movements and they would answer Team Blue.

            1. Dollars to donuts you could ask NORML which party was most active in their group and in general decrim and legalization donations and movements and they would answer Team Blue.

              Yes, I'm just waiting for democrat politicians to catch up with them. After all, I wouldn't describe the effect that democrats have had on state and federal policy between 1970 and now as "minimal", and they had both houses of congress and the presidency only a few years ago. Somehow, correcting the huge injustice of the drug war just didn't make their agenda.

              I'm sure they'll get on it any day now, because, as you say, democrats are all about drug legalization. Even more so than libertarians. Why? Because you don't remember any at a drug protest 40+ years ago.

              Democrats who want drug legalization are like republicans who want limited government: you're parties just playing a game of make believe. The problem isn't that you want to legalize drugs; the problem is that you buy it when your leaders promise you they're thinking about it.

              When they really do something about it, get back to us. Instead, they're just pretending they're libertarians on the drug war, when they're actually not.

              1. Or, if you don't believe me, how about some cites?

                Libertarian party platform:

                Government exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property. Criminal laws should be limited to violation of the rights of others through force or fraud, or deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm. We favor the repeal of all laws creating "crimes" without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes, since only actions that infringe on the rights of others can properly be termed crimes.

                Democratic party platform:

                We will continue to fight inequalities in our criminal justice system. We believe that the death penalty must not be
                arbitrary. DNA testing should be used in all appropriate circumstances, defendants should have effective assistance
                of counsel, and the administration of justice should be fair and impartial. That's why we enacted the Fair Sentencing
                Act, reducing racial disparities in sentencing for drug crimes.

                That's about as good as it gets. Yeah, the democrats are all about ending the drug war.

                When the democrats sound like the libertarians, get back to me. Until then, you're living in your own democrat fantasy land. No one has to wait for libertarians on ending the drug war.

            2. Asshole, you don't see much of anything. The willfully blind are like that.

  2. I think the vast majority of the American voting population basically distrusts politicians in general. I also think that same vast majority has no clear ideological convictions about much of anything. Most people are too busy trying to survive and make a living in this society, which leaves precious time at the end of any given day to reflect on politics.

    I also think that when the U.S. voting eligible population does go to the polls in 2016 to vote for a President, that the majority of those who actually show up at their voting locations will probably vote for a White, Male, Conservative Republican simply because it's time to do so. Call this the "Swing of The Pendulum" or anything your want, but this is the way things usually go.

    1. "I think the vast majority of the American voting population basically distrusts politicians in general."

      This is true - but it will always be true. A pol is somewhat like a soldier in that sense...someone who has to often do a LOT of unpleasant things to both get elected and then to actually accomplish things.

      Put two people together in any org. You then have politics.

  3. In other news: Democrats side against third pary voters on police and foreign policy and Republicans side against third party voters on the economy.

  4. Democrats have the same foreign policy as the republicans.

    1. "Democrats have the same foreign policy as the republicans."

      I guess if it's graded as pass/fail this is true, but life is graded along a scale, and the debacle in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc. is very likely to outdo anything we'll see in our lifetime in terms of lies and waste. Treasure and blood expended can be measured......

      I'd say that since RFK that the Dems have generally been hesitant for full scale war(s).
      (His wing was rising and LBJ dropped out because he knew the party was anti-war).

    2. While that sentiment seems largely true, Democrats appear a lot less willing to go to war will-nilly like recent Republican administrations have been apt of doing.

      1. Yeah, walk, that OBO guy's only started, what 3 wars and was saved from starting another by Putin

  5. Wouldn't unvaccinated kids only infect other unvaccinated kids, creating a self-deterring mechanism.

    Unless, of course, the parents have been misled as to the safety of vaccines and are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

  6. So, if i understand this correctly, Reason is saying that democrats are going to retake the House and the GOP is going to lose seats in the Senate? Has Tony and Shreek and Craig-head-up-his-ass taken over Reason? That is fucking what it seems like, recently. It is becoming perfectly understandable why hillary is preferable to you than ANYONE the GOP can nominate, because no one can pass you purity tests. You fucking assholes are a waste of time and this article fucking proves it. Hey tony! You Win! This fucking worthless rag belongs to you.

  7. Legal experts have suggested that if Congress has the power to require individuals to buy health care insurance, it may also mandate that Americans buy broccoli. Legal experts have suggested that if Congress has the power to require individuals to buy health care insurance, it may also mandate that Americans buy broccoli. Legal experts have suggested that if Congress has the power to require individuals to buy health care insurance, it may also mandate that Americans buy broccoli. - - - - ????? 2017- ????? 2017

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