Why doesn’t a major third party exist in America? A ScottRasmussen.com national survey found that 42% of voters say Republicans and Democrats write election laws to make it difficult for third party candidates to compete. Thirty-four percent (34%) say there aren’t more successful third party candidates because voters don’t have much interest in them.
The survey also found that just 36% believe America would be at least somewhat better off with a major third political party competing in the election process. Thirty-one percent (31%) say a major third party would make no difference, and 16% say it would make things at least somewhat worse.
The national survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted October 30-31, 2018 by ScottRasmussen.com and HarrisX, a polling company specializing in online surveys (see Methodology and the demographic profile of our sample). It has a 3.1 percentage point Margin of Error with a 95% level of confidence.
When looking deeper at the results, several differences arise when it comes to age, gender, and party affiliation. (see question wording and crosstab results).
Not surprisingly, independent voters are more likely to say the election laws written by Republicans and Democrats are the reason there are so few successful third party candidates. Forty-nine percent (49%) of independents blamed existing election laws compared to an identical 40% of Republicans and 40% of Democrats respondents who agree.
Forty-six percent (46%) of male voters believe third party candidates are mostly stopped by the existing election laws compared to 38% of female voters. Younger voters are also more likely to blame the election laws written by Republicans and Democrats.
As for the impact, not even half of Independent voters believe a major third party would make things better in America. Just 44% of them saying it would, along with 35% of Republicans and 33% of Democrats.
Here too, some key differences arise when the results are broken down by different demographic and age groups.
Forty-six percent (46%) of male voters say a major third party would make America at least somewhat better off compared to just 28% of female respondents.
Younger voters tend to believe more in the positive effects of a third party than older Americans. Forty percent (40%) of voters aged 18-34 and 41% of voters aged 35-49 say a major third party would make America at least somewhat better off. Only 34% of voters aged 50-64 and just 29% of voters aged 65-plus agree.
The effect of third party candidates has been in focus lately. Both the Libertarian Party candidate in the Montana U.S. Senate race and the Green Party candidate in the Arizona U.S. Senate race dropped out of the running in the week leading up to the midterm elections. Those events were expected to boost Republican candidate Matt Rosendale in Montana and Democratic Party nominee Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona.
This comes also on the heels of longtime independent Senator Bernie Sanders switching to a Democratic Party affiliation to successfully run more competitively against Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination. Sanders quickly switched back to an independent after the election.
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Neither Scott Rasmussen nor ScottRasmussen.com has any relationship with Rasmussen Reports® (see About Us).