Foreign Policy

Many Americans want a third-party option, Democrats even more than Republicans

A majority of 43% of respondents also said they would be interested in voting for a third party or an independent (non-Democratic or Republican) candidate in the next presidential election.

Yes: 43%
No: 30%
Unsure: 27%

The results are particularly interesting given the recent surge in people distancing themselves from the Republican Party, although the results provide little information about where exactly the disillusionment of the two-party system came from, whether it is a new phenomenon, and whether there is interest in the latter Time more with certain voters than with others.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, independents are the most supportive cohort for adding more parties. Here is the affiliation breakdown of the 48% of respondents who said more parties are needed:

Independent: 60%
Democrat: 48%
Republicans: 36%

Likewise, independents were the least likely to say that it was “okay” to have only two parties at 13%, while 29% of Democrats and 27% of Republicans said the status quo was okay.

But when it came to expressing an interest in potentially voting for a third party presidential candidate, interest dropped significantly among the Democrats and a little among the Republicans, while the Independents continued to show the greatest interest. Here’s the breakdown when people were asked if they “would be interested in voting for a third party or an independent (not Democratic or Republican) candidate” in the next presidential election.

Independent: 66%
Republicans: 41%
Democrat: 25%

The 23-point gap between Democrats who believe another party is needed and those who would actually consider voting for a third party presidential candidate in the next cycle could reflect the reality that Democratic voters are turning remain aware of the possible consequences of not remaining true to loyalty to the party on top of the ticket.

Perhaps more mysteriously, which Republicans are expressing a relatively high level of interest in a third-party candidate – is it more of the Romney old-guard Republicans, the Trumpers who tend to dislike established Republicans, or a healthy mix of the two?

Finally, the keen interest of the Independents suggests that a third party candidacy is likely to siphon the votes of a Democratic and Republican presidential candidate alike. However, it’s impossible to have any idea whether a third-party candidate would lure away more Democratic or Republican Leaner. That would certainly depend on the candidates and on a clearer understanding of the political leanings of the growing number of people who now identify as independent. In short, it’s complicated.

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