As the United States approaches the last month before the 2014 midterm elections, many analysts are spending considerable energy trying to figure out whether Democrats or Republicans will be able to control a majority in the U.S. Senate. However, a new poll by Gallup argues that more Americans wish they had alternative choices.
In this survey, a majority of U.S. adults say that a third major political party is needed because the Republican and Democratic parties are doing such a “poor job” representing the American people.
While the government shutdown and intransigence on issues such as immigration have heightened reports about U.S. frustration with the current political climate, the sentiment for an alternative political choice is nothing new. In fact, since 2007, a majority of U.S. adults have called for a third party.
The poll asks:
“In your view, do the Republicans and Democratic parties do an adequate job of representing the American people, or do they do such a poor job that a third major party is needed?”
Respondents can answer “parties do an adequate job” or “third party needed.” The past several years has seen a rise in the number asking for political alternatives. While the number hit an all-time high in 2013, with 60 percent of Americans asking for a third choice around the government shutdown, the current number hovers around 58 percent of Americans.Not surprisingly, respondents who identify as independent are much more likely to want an alternative choice. Currently, 71 percent of self-indentified independents are asking for a third choice to break outside the two-party system.
However, even among Democrats and Republicans, 47 percent and 46 percent, respectively, believe their own parties are not doing an adequate job in offering a political choice that represents their views.
What does this poll mean for the midterm election?
In the grander scheme of the 2014 election, probably not much as most races only offer a Democrat or Republican with the money and name recognition to launch serious challenges. However, there are a few races to keep an eye on that might show the electoral consequences that stem from this dissatisfaction.
Maine also faces the possibility of electing Eliot Cutler for governor, which if he wins would mean the small New England state would be the “first state in modern political history to have an independent governor and U.S. senator at the same time.”
Although races like these are only beginning to pop up in isolated locations around the country, new polls like the one recently released by Gallup could mean they will become much more common in the years to come.