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Majority in U.S. Still Say a Third Party Is Needed

Majority in U.S. Still Say a Third Party Is Needed

Story Highlights

  • 57% of Americans say a third major political party is needed
  • Majority support for third party for fifth consecutive year
  • Support for a third party highest among independents

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A majority of Americans, 57%, say there is a need for a third, major political party, while 38% of Americans believe the current two party system does an adequate job of representing the people. These views have been consistent since 2013.

Line graph. Majorities of Americans have consistently said a third major party is needed over the past five years.

Americans' views of the two-party system have soured since Gallup's initial 2003 measurement when a solid majority said the Republican and Democratic parties were doing an adequate job. More than 40% continued to feel this way on occasion through 2012, but since then no more than 38% have believed the two parties are adequate while as many as 61% have said a third party is needed.

The latest results come from Gallup's annual Governance survey, conducted Sept. 4-12, as many midterm election races for governor, the U.S. House and U.S. Senate feature pitched battles between Republican and Democratic candidates. Typically, majorities of Americans have supported a third major political party. However, there have been a few major departures from the trend. These include 2008 and 2012, both presidential election years.

Independents are, not surprisingly, the political partisan group most supportive of a third party. Seventy-two percent of political independents support a third major political party. Independents have consistently been most supportive of a third party.

Both Democrats and Republicans typically have similar levels of support for a third major political party. However, this year there is a substantial, 16-percentage-point gap between the two partisan group, with 54% of Democrats and 38% of Republicans supporting a third major political party. A similar gap was seen from 2003-2006 when the Republicans also held control of both the presidency and Congress.

Line graph. Independents are consistently the most likely partisan group to support a third major political party.

View complete question responses and trends.

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