Majority Of Republicans Support A Third Party

For the first time, a majority of Republicans support creation of a third political party. Does it really mean anything?

A new Gallup poll has some rather interesting news about the way Republicans are feeling right now:

Gallup has always found political independents to be most desirous of a third party, and 68% currently are. But right now there is also a significant party gap, with 52% of Republicans favoring a third party, compared with 33% of Democrats.

This is the first time Gallup finds a significantly higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats in favor of a third party. During much of President Bush’s term, the opposite was true, with Democrats more likely to favor the formation of a third party. That gap narrowed in 2007, after the Democrats’ victories in the 2006 midterms, and there has been a minimal difference between the two parties until the current poll.

The trend lines are stark, and rather interesting:

The trends seem to defy any standard explanation.  It’s easy, perhaps to understand why support for a third-party among Democrats might have risen during the Bush Administration. Their party was out of power, after all, and there was a perception by some on the left that leaders in Congress weren’t fighting the Bush Administration hard enough, especially over issues like the Iraq War. How to explain, though, that Democratic support for a third-party rose by seven points between 2008 and 2010 when Democrats controlled Congress and the White House? Similarly, it makes sense that GOP support for the idea of a third-party would rise from 2008 to 2010, but how do you explain the rise of 8 points from 2010 to this year, after the GOP took control of the House?

Part of the explanation for that last part may lie in the fact that, perhaps not surprisingly, support for a third-party among self-identified supporters of the Tea Party movement are very amenable to the idea of a third-party:

The more important question, of course, is what this really means. The last truly successful third-party movement in American history was the Republican Party, which ended up displacing the Whigs and other rival small parties to become the second dominant party in American politics, and that’s the what it has been essentially for the past 151 years. Since that time, there have been third-party movements — the Socialists under Eugene V. Debs, the Progressive/Bull Moose Party, the Dixiecrats, and the Ross Perot/Reform Party movement — but none of them have been able to sustain themselves beyond one or two election cycles. For better or worse, the American political system as it currently exists seems designed to naturally lead to the creation of two dominant political parties.

What we’re seeing here, then, isn’t so much a public longing to get rid of the GOP or Democratic Party, but another example of widespread frustration with the political system. As with the polls we see that say that the same people who re-elect their Congressmen every two years hate Congress as an institution, results like this basically just constitute the public venting about a political system that is, to say the least, frustrating. In terms of actual policy, though, it means very little.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Neil Hudelson says:

    The last truly successful third-party movement in American history was the Republican Party

    Academic dishonesty!!! What about the No Labels party?

    *giggle*

  2. John Burgess says:

    The article doesn’t tell us which Republicans are supporting a third party. Is it the SoCons who want their own party or the fiscal Cons who want their own? I’d be happy to see a SoCon Party so that it could be easily avoided. It would take a lot of the turditude out of the Rep. Party were it to depart.

  3. tom p says:

    For the first time, a majority of Republicans support creation of a third political party. Does it really mean anything?

    No.

  4. Hey Norm says:

    The Republican party has veered so far to the right as to be unrecognizable. A third party based on conservative principles which the Republicans have abandoned might be a good idea. Basically a party that would elect a Ronald Reagan again, which today’s Republicans wouldn’t. I personally think it’s great Obama is getting so much done, but there should be some bi-partisan buy-in. It can’t happen with extremists like today’s Republican party. A third party of reasonable moderates might be just the ticket – pun intended.

  5. An Interested Party says:

    I’d be happy to see a SoCon Party so that it could be easily avoided. It would take a lot of the turditude out of the Rep. Party were it to depart.

    I wonder how widespread this view is among Republicans…poor social conservatives…oh well, at least Jesus still loves them…

  6. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Sure thing. And they could call it the “Elect Democrats in Perpetuity Party.”

  7. chas says:

    The US gov’t is like a severely damaged coin with knick, dings and holes in it. A real coin in this shape would be sent back to the mint by any bank to be melted down! On one side are the democrats, on the other are the republicans. Tea partiers, independants, etc are in the grooves around the edge.
    Another party will do nothing. The coin needs to be melted down and replaced! ALL the politicians in our central government should get their pink slips. 50 representatives elected (1 from each state) (and none being a current senator, congressman or anyone involved in our current federal ’empire’) should be picked to go back into DC on a set date for the sole purpose of setting up the federal government as it was in the beginning according to all original edicts of the Constitution and Declaration of Independance, which have been basically trampled on by our recent governmental administarations of the past several decades! – (the currrent one most especially)
    This current government is ‘diseased’ and the ‘patient’ does NOT have the power to heal itself!
    If this damaged coin is allowed to continue throughout another term – no matter who gets elected – by 2016 The United States of America as we and our ancestors have known it will probably cease to exist! And wil be replaced with something more horrific than anything the world has ever known!

  8. superdestroyer says:

    Once again the Repubicans demonstrate that they are bad at math. There are not enough middle class whites to maintain the current Republican Party. Splitting the same white voters between two parties would make both parties even more irrelevant.

    If all of the blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Homosexuals, union members, academics, and government workers stay home in the Democratic party, there is nothing that either social conservatives or fiscal conservatives can do to have any real influence on politics or governance.

    What the Repulbicans should be doing is folding the Republican Party and start voting in the Democratic primary. Such a move would take away the advantages of all of the ethnic voting blocks and would give middle class white much more power.

  9. TG Chicago says:

    I suspect this is the backlash from the success of the conservative media machine.

    You’ve created a monster that constantly demands more more more movement to the right. No matter how far the Republican party goes, the monster always needs more. Since actual Republican politicians know that they can’t move that far and still get elected, they don’t go as far out on the limb… and they are branded RINOs. Thus the desire for a new party.

    Seems like the growing movement for a third party — just like the Tea Party — comes from the Fox/Limbaugh axis becoming too powerful for the Republican Party’s own good.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    If this damaged coin is allowed to continue throughout another term – no matter who gets elected – by 2016 The United States of America as we and our ancestors have known it will probably cease to exist! And wil be replaced with something more horrific than anything the world has ever known!

    How little faith you have in your country…

    Such a move would take away the advantages of all of the ethnic voting blocks and would give middle class white much more power.

    Oh absolutely, because as we all know, one of the biggest problems with our country is that “the blacks, Hispanics, Jews, [&] Homosexuals” have far too much power…

  11. wr says:

    Chas — And once we’ve reinstituted slavery and taken the vote away from women and those under 21, how exactly is that going to make this country better?

  12. TG Chicago says:

    @superdestroyer

    What the Repulbicans should be doing is folding the Republican Party and start voting in the Democratic primary. Such a move would take away the advantages of all of the ethnic voting blocks and would give middle class white much more power.

    Wait… did you just call for a White Power party?

  13. superdestroyer says:

    Interested Party

    The federal courts keep ruling that separate-and-unequal is unconstitutional but the black democrats keep getting programs that are nothing but separate-and-unequal.

    President Obama was in El Paso today to pander to Hispanic by devaluing citizenship and rewarding law breakers. Homosexuals have gotten everything they want the last couple of years.

    If middle class private sectored employed white want to have any effect on politics they had better vote in the Democratic Primary. Voting for Republicans and trying to get Republicans to do anything other than pork up a budget and give their friends earmarks is just a waste of time.

  14. superdestroyer says:

    TG Chicago,

    Look at Republicans in California. They can keep voting for Republicans who have zero chance of winning and zero chance of affecting policy even if they are elected or they can vote for the more moderate/conservative Democrats and confuse the Hispanics voters in the general election since they will automatically vote for anyone who has a (D) next to their name.

    It is not a white power party. It is a way for middle class whites to retain some form of influence in politics.

  15. TG Chicago says:

    It is not a white power party. It is a way for middle class whites to retain some form of influence in politics.

    Oh, so it’s just a way to keep whites in power at the expense of nonwhites. Yeah, no problem there.

  16. Eric Florack says:

    Your discussion, Doug reveals a GOP rank and file deeply angry about the GOP leaders all being centrists at best. There’s a longing on the part of the rank and file for real conservatism.

    And as Norm’s post shows, it’s what the left most deeply fears.

  17. Scott O. says:

    @superdestroyer, I assume you’re white so the easy path to living large by being black or Hispanic is out but you can choose the gay life style and become a member of the privileged class.

  18. superdestroyer says:

    TG Chicago,

    Having middle class whites spread their votes across three parties while virtually all non-whites loyally vote for Democrats means that whites will have virtually no influence. In today’s politics, the U.S. is all about who gets benefits from the government and who pays. The only way that whites can avoid being the one group that pays for everyone else is to organize in a way that whites can have some poltical power. And they only way for whites to have any say in politics is to vote in the Democratic Primaries for the more moderate, more fiscally conservative candidate and limit the number of white liberal Democrats there are who will always vote with the CHC and CBC.

  19. michael reynolds says:

    I need Jay T or Drew or jwest to come by and explain how superdestroyer’s not really a racist because there’s no such thing as racists.

  20. michael reynolds says:

    On the actual topic:

    The question is what one envisions when one is asked the poll question.

    It occurs to me that I would answer yes, although I’m a Democrat, because I’d also like to see an alternative party and the GOP as presently constituted is simply unacceptable. There were times when I felt a new, reformulated Democratic party was needed, but I now feel that way about the GOP. In other words, the question is kind of confusing and probably just about meaningless.

  21. wr says:

    ” Homosexuals have gotten everything they want the last couple of years. ”

    Everything? Even a pony? Because it can’t really be everything they want if they didn’t get a pony.

  22. Neil Hudelson says:

    WR,

    I just phoned my closest gay friend. He said no pony has been received. A pygmy goat was delivered by UPS 3 days ago, but that might have just been a coincidence. They are also holding out for those massaging car seat covers, but are negotiable on that last point. I’ll keep everyone updated when “the Homosexuals” finally get everything they want.

  23. george says:

    Once again the Repubicans demonstrate that they are bad at math. There are not enough middle class whites to maintain the current Republican Party. Splitting the same white voters between two parties would make both parties even more irrelevant.

    Actually a lot (nearly 50%) of Asian-Americans vote Republican – and dislike being called white.

    But if you mean there aren’t enough votes on the right side of the spectrum to support two parties, you’re correct – Canada for instance has had a long history of vote splitting, and its typically the party that can grab the center that wins.

  24. superdestroyer says:

    George,

    Asians vote Democratic somewhere between 65% to 70%. Virtually all elected Asians are Democrats. The idea that Asians will vote for the more conservative party is laughable. Asians benefit from government set asides for contracting but get lumped in with whites for college admissions. Asians get the best of both worlds when it comes to quotas and set asides. Such a group is not going to vote for the more conservative party.

  25. An Interested Party says:

    And as Norm’s post shows, it’s what the left most deeply fears.

    Actually, it’s what the left most deeply laughs at…

    …but the black democrats keep getting programs that are nothing but separate-and-unequal.

    Homosexuals have gotten everything they want the last couple of years.

    Well, obviously they laugh at a lot of things…

  26. george says:

    Asians vote Democratic somewhere between 65% to 70%.

    You sure? I remember reading that close to 50% of Asian-Americans voted for Bush. Though perhaps quite a few fewer voted Republican in 2008.

  27. george says:

    Asians get the best of both worlds when it comes to quotas and set asides.

    Unless of course you’re an Asian trying to get into a Californian university …

  28. Hey Norm says:

    What I really fear is people with tea bags dangling from their hats. Actually what I really fear is idiocy. Maybe they are the same.

  29. Hey Norm says:

    It occurs to me that Eric talking about real conservatism is like Paul Ryan saving Medicare. Calling something that is fundamentally changed by it’s former name doesn’t make it that thing. Frankly it’s an indication of being blithely untethered from reality.

  30. A voice from another precinct says:

    I’m not quite sure about why “my ox is being gored [or at least I perceive it to be so] therefore I am in favor of a third party” is any surprise to anyone. It has ever been thus–from the 1840s in America, to Weimar, to now.

  31. A voice from another precinct says:

    Wow! the last time I saw this many crackers assembled in one place was on a cheese tray!

  32. Kylopod says:

    >I remember reading that close to 50% of Asian-Americans voted for Bush.

    According to at least some exit polls, that is incorrect. Gore, Kerry, and Obama won clear majorities of the Asian vote. However, Clinton lost the Asian vote both times, with Bush Sr. actually getting a majority. So it seems that the Asian vote has moved in a more Democratic direction since the ’90s.

  33. b-psycho says:

    There’s a longing on the part of the rank and file for real conservatism.

    Defined as _______?

  34. george says:

    However, Clinton lost the Asian vote both times, with Bush Sr. actually getting a majority.

    Perhaps I was confusing Bush Sr with Bush Jr then.

  35. anjin-san says:

    It occurs to me that Eric talking about real conservatism

    Sadly, the “real conservatism” he is talking about is the kind where everyone at the party meeting is kind of stupid.

    And as Norm’s post shows, it’s what the left most deeply fears.

    Well, this is the same rocket scientist who spent the runup to the ’08 election telling everyone how much the left feared Sarah Palin, AKA “the final nail in McCain’s coffin”.

    Dude, what we actually feared was her doing more interviews. The horror. The horror…

  36. Diego says:

    Sadly, the “real conservatism” he is talking about is the kind where everyone at the party meeting is kind of stupid.

    anji-san is all about the projection isn’t he?

    Dude, what we actually feared was her doing more interviews. The horror. The horror…

    Yeah I was getting tired of them too. Same liberal crap, different channel.

  37. Eric Florack says:

    Actually, it’s what the left most deeply laughs at…

    …but the black democrats keep getting programs that are nothing but separate-and-unequal.

    Homosexuals have gotten everything they want the last couple of years.

    Why is it that the programs you support in the name of equality, have us seperated by race and sexual preference? Is dividing us by these borders what you had in mind?

    There’s a longing on the part of the rank and file for real conservatism.

    Defined as _______?

    Reagan leaps to mind. A government that actually limits itself to it’s constitutional mandates.

  38. PJ says:

    Your discussion, Doug reveals a GOP rank and file deeply angry about the GOP leaders all being centrists at best. There’s a longing on the part of the rank and file for real conservatism.

    And as Norm’s post shows, it’s what the left most deeply fears.

    That is as stupid as the idea that the right’s most deeply fear would be Nader.

  39. […] Majority Of Republicans Support A Third Party (outsidethebeltway.com) […]

  40. george says:

    Reagan leaps to mind. A government that actually limits itself to it’s constitutional mandates.

    Iran-Contragate was mandated by the constitution? I have a hard time picturing the founders having that in mind when they wrote it.

  41. Davebo says:

    Good God!

    The only upside to this thread is the knowledge that superdestroyer and Bithead most likely live out the decade.

    I mean, if there really is a God.

  42. b-psycho says:

    Reagan leaps to mind.

    A government that actually limits itself to it’s constitutional mandates.

    So which one?

    Disclosure before you answer: I’m of the mind that it is impossible to have a government that actually limits itself — or rather, impossible to have people granted a qualified “right” of force to fulfill goals that do not attempt to use that force for their own self-interest. Hence, I prefer no state at all. In short, you’re not talking to a Dem.