Americans’ support for the formation of a third political party has reached 62%, a 5-point uptick since last fall and an all-time high in Gallup’s polling. Likewise, just 33% of Americans think the nation’s two parties are adequately representing the interests of the public, according to the survey, which was conducted Jan. 21-Feb. 2 (before news surfaced that former GOP officials have been discussing just such an effort).
A big part of the uptick in support for another party is being driven by dissatisfaction within the Republican ranks, with 63%—the highest percentage of GOP voters since the issue has been polled—supporting a third party.
“Independents are usually much more likely than Republicans or Democrats to favor a third political party, but in the current poll, Republicans are nearly as likely as independents to hold this view, 63% to 70%,” writes Gallup. “That represents a dramatic shift for Republicans since last September when 40% favored a third party.” Republicans’ current support for a third party also represents a high-water mark for either party.
In the same poll, the GOP’s favorability rating had fallen to just 37% (almost entirely due to a drop off in Republican support), and the number of respondents identifying as independent reached an all-time high at 50%.
Generally speaking, support for formation of a third party has been hovering around 59%-60% ever since October 2013, when GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas engineered a 16-day government shutdown in a futile effort to repeal Obamacare—by reading Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor. So dissatisfaction with the ability of the U.S. government to meet the needs of the American people under the current system has been brewing for the better part of a decade.
When Gallup first asked the third-party question in 2003, most Americans said the two parties were adequately representing the public at 56%, while 40% favored the formation of an additional party.
If you’re interested in a recent discussion of whether conditions are ripe for the formation of a potential third party, I happen to have written one last week.