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Tuesday, November 01, 2016

What America Thinks: Is a Third Party the Way?

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump seemed the inevitable major party presidential candidates early in the primary season, and many voters weren’t happy about that choice. A sizable number talked about staying home on Election Day or voting for a third-party candidate. Libertarian Gary Johnson, in particular, was an early beneficiary of this kind of talk, but as the election nears, it seems voters once again – as they do every four years with rare exception – are abandoning the third-party candidates to vote for the Republican or Democratic nominee.

Rasmussen Reports has been measuring the support for Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, the two most prominent third-party hopefuls, in our regular White House Watch survey since the beginning of August. Stein has never risen above low single-digit support, and Johnson peaked at nine percent (9%) in September. It’s been downhill since then. The two of them together get around five percent (5%) support now.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) say they’ve voted for a third-party candidate in the past. But support for a truly competitive national third party has waned over the last several years. In 2007, 58% thought it would be good for the United States. Now, just 44% feel that way.

Five years ago, more than half of voters believed the election of a third-party president was likely within the next decade. Today, just 36% agree. But 63% also think the current election system discourages third-party candidates.