A new USA Today/Gallup Poll reveals 52 percent of Americans believe the Democratic and Republican parties do such a poor job in Washington that a third party is needed, and for the first time, a majority of Republicans favor a third party.
Results of the poll note that the number of Americans calling for a third party is down from last August, when 58 percent believed the third party was necessary.
In 2003, when Gallup first asked the third party question, a majority of Americans thought it was not needed at the time, and the numbers have fluctuated since then. Twice there was a near-even division of opinion, both times occurring in the autumn of an election year.
Currently, 68 percent of independents most favor a third party and a major gap exists along party lines, with 52 percent of Republicans who favor a third party, compared to just 33 percent of Democrats. It is the first time that Republicans hold the higher percentage since the question was first asked.
During most of President Bush’s term, Democrats more likely favored a third party than Republicans. The gap narrowed in 2007 after Democratic victories in 2006, and the numbers between the two parties remained relatively close until the latest poll.
The shift in Republican numbers in favor of a third party could be the result of the Tea Party movement, close in alignment with the GOP, Gallup notes. The poll found that 60 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters were in favor of a third party, compared to opponents of the Tea Party at 44 percent.
On a historical note, third parties in US politics generally have not sustained any momentum for more than one or two elections. This is likely the result of independent voters generally leaning toward one main party or the other, depending on party attitudes they can identify with, and because third parties also face challenges in the American political system setup, a system that determines presidents and members of Congress by awarding electoral votes or seats based on the majority of state or district votes, the Gallup poll noted.
The survey was conducted April 20-23, and was based on telephone interviews (landline and cellular) of a random sample of 1,013 adults, 18 years of age and older, living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.