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Third party fever: record number of Americans want a political alternative

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More Americans dream of a third political party than ever before: “60 percent of Americans say the Democratic and Republicans parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed,” says Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones, who reports that these findings set a record.

And for the first time, Republicans and Democrats roughly agree: 52 percent of the GOPers and 49 percent of Democrats say a third party is in order. Only a quarter of the respondents overall say the two major parties “adequately” represent the nation.

Mr. Jones is not surprised, pointing out that the two parties can’t agree on “the most basic of government functions,” like passing an annual budget to pay for federal programs. But third party fans shouldn’t get their hopes up.

“The desire for a third party is not sufficient to ensure there will be one,” Mr. Jones adds. “Structural factors in the U.S. election system and the parties’ own abilities to adapt to changing public preferences have helped the Republican and Democratic parties to remain the dominant parties in U.S. government for more than 150 years. Third parties that have emerged to challenge their dominance have not been able to sustain any degree of electoral success.”

No comment yet from the tea party, the Libertarians, the Green Party or the Constitution Party, incidentally.

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