Publication / DecodeDC/ Scripps
September 24, 2014
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Majority of Americans want to fix the political system with a third party

Is a third political party the answer?


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Is three the best number? A majority of Americans think that may be the case when it comes to the U.S.’s political parties.

A Gallup poll released today found that a majority of U.S. adults believe a third political party is needed because the current parties in control—Republicans and Democrats—“do such a poor job.”

 It’s not that a three party system might be a better representation of the American public as a whole, just that the current leaders are making such a muck of it.

Since 2007, a majority of people polled have called for a third party. This year 58 percent believe an additional party is needed, about the same percentage as those polled last year—which marked an all-time high.  The 60 percent high in favor of creating a third party came in a poll conducted during the federal government shutdown in October 2013. At the same time, only 26 percent of Americans believed the parties were doing an “adequate” job. The figure today is higher at 35 percent.

Despite the support, history has shown that third parties have had relatively little success establishing themselves in American politics—just look at the Green Party and even the Tea Party. Heavy weights like Ross Perot and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have also flirted with the idea.

According to Gallup, the country’s Electoral College system “generally favors two parties—a center-right and center-left party—that have the ability to assemble a winning plurality or majority in districts and states across the country.”

Many states even have in place restrictive laws that make it near impossible for third-party candidates to get their names on the ballot. Substantial reforms would be needed to realistically change the party system.

Until then, third parties may find more success trying to work from within the already established Republican and Democratic groups.