American voters have been sick of the two-party system for as long as most of us can remember, but never has the hunger for a new, major third party been this voracious. According to a new poll from Gallup, a majority of voters now want a viable alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties.
The poll shows that most voters – 62% – believe that the two major parties “do such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed.” Only 33 percent of Americans are satisfied with the current slate of choices. In conjunction with these numbers, a record 50% of Americans now consider themselves independent voters, giving their allegiance to neither blue nor red.
Gallup first asked about the need for a third party in 2003. At that time, most Americans did not think it was necessary, with 56% saying the parties were doing an adequate job representing the American people and 40% saying a third party was needed.
In several election years — 2006, 2008 and 2012 — Americans were divided as to whether a third party was needed, but since 2012, Americans have consistently favored the idea.
Now, of course, the question becomes: What kind of third party do Americans want? The answer isn’t so clear. There are many Trump supporters who are dissatisfied with the current incarnation of the Republican Party, and they want a new right-wing party that will better represent the values of “America First.” Then there are those on the opposite side of the Republican Party who want to break off and form a center-right party that disavows everything that Trump ever stood for. We’re not so sure that this faction has any particular steam behind it, but it’s sure to get plenty of press.
“Democrat opinions are more difficult to pin down,” Gallup reports. “34 percent would like to see the party move further left, while 25 percent want to see the platform become more moderate. 42 percent of left-leaning independents want to see Democrats move toward the center, while 35 percent believe it is still too conservative.”
Well, if this new third party just becomes a way to split the Republican vote in 2022 and beyond, then it will be an unmitigated disaster. We have (much) more confidence in a further-right party than a moderate-right party, but either one would give the Democrats all the room they need to dominate any future elections. It seems that the same thing that has prevented a major third party from developing thus far will continue to hold sway for the foreseeable future: It just doesn’t make practical sense.