Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Little Support Of Third-Party Candidates

Posted Jul 11, 2012 at 9:52 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a recent survey by Gallup, "U.S. registered voters show limited support for third-party candidates this year, with the vast majority preferring Barack Obama or Mitt Romney." The survey poll "asked a special presidential preference question, listing three third-party candidates in addition to Obama and Romney. Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson is the choice of 3% of registered voters and Green Party candidate Jill Stein the choice of 1%. Another 2% volunteer Ron Paul's name and 1% mention someone other than the listed candidates." In most instances, Gallup reports, this support was at the expense of Romney's candidacy.

Majority of Americans Want Third Party

Posted Oct 01, 2010 at 1:37 AM by Maurice Berger

A Gallup survey reports that a strong majority of Americans--now at 58%--are dissatisfied with the two current party system and believe a third party is need to mke government more effective. Gallup writes: "Though the rise in support for a third party could be linked to the Tea Party movement, Tea Party supporters are just about average in terms of wanting to see a third party created. Sixty-two percent of those who describe themselves as Tea Party supporters would like a third major party formed, but so do 59% of those who are neutral toward the Tea Party movement. Tea Party opponents are somewhat less likely to see the need for a third party."

Gallup: Third Party Candidates Receiving "Minimal Support"

Posted Oct 13, 2008 at 1:33 AM by Maurice Berger

A recent Gallup Poll in which "four third-party candidates were explicitly listed for voters along with the two major-party candidates found only minimal support for any candidate other than John McCain or Barack Obama. Ralph Nader (independent candidate) received 2% of voter choices, Bob Barr (Libertarian Party) and Cynthia McKinney (Green Party) 1%, and Chuck Baldwin (Constitution Party) received less than 1%." Although the implication of Gallup's finding is that these candidates are not in a position to win, can they nevertheless affect the election? While Nader's support has declined from 4% a month ago, for example, the question remains: in a close election, as in 2000, can he siphon off enough votes to swing key battleground states from the Republican to the Democrat, or vice versa in the case of Bob Barr?

Tracking The Nation: New Third Party Category

Posted Oct 01, 2008 at 8:46 AM by Maurice Berger

To reflect the possible influence of third party campaigns on Election 2008, PollTrack has just introduced a new category for its Tracking The Nation chart on our homepage: National Polling Average With Third Party Candidates. This category will be updated when data becomes available (not all surveys consider the strength of third party candidates).

Third Party Candidates: Can They Swing This Election?

Posted Sep 30, 2008 at 11:22 AM by Maurice Berger

On our new Voices on the Ground page, reader Oliver Wasow asks about the Barr/Nader factor and whether third party candidates can make a difference in this election. While Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are barely registering in national polls--their PollTrack averages are 3% and 1.5% respectively--they can make a difference in this election. Take the new ABC News/Washington Post Poll released this evening: Obama 50% to McCain 46%, a net plus of 4% for Obama. Add in the two third party candidates, and the numbers change subtly, but significantly: Obama 48%, McCain 45%, Nader 3%, Barr 2%. There is no guarantee that Nader and Barr will continue to draw the same level of support on election day; but the reverse is also true--their numbers could increase. If the election draws closer again--keep in mind, that the three point margin for Obama is within the poll's margin of error--third party candidates could draw away enough votes from the Democrat or Republican to swing a very close state or two.

How Close is Close?

Posted Aug 14, 2008 at 4:26 AM by Maurice Berger

While Pew and most other recent surveys call the race a statistical tie--based on the closeness of the numbers and the polls' margin of error--the consistency of these results suggest that Barack Obama does maintain a modest national lead, despite losing ground since June.  All but a few national polls (the exception: Zogby and several Rasmussen Daily Tracking results) give Obama, on average, a 2-4% advantage nationally. 

The problem for both candidates: neither crosses the 50% mark, suggesting a large undecided block as well as support for neither or for third party candidates. Of course, the importance of this threshold declines in relation to third party support (now at around 5% on average for Nader and Barr combined). If these numbers increase considerably--as they did in 1992 for Ross Perot, who wound up with 19% of the vote--then, of course, it is likely that neither Obama nor McCain will win a majority of the electorate in a relatively close race. (In 1992, Clinton's margin of victory was 5.5%, but he won with only 43% of the vote).

But, of course, American presidential elections are not won on the basis of the national popular vote. Thus the literal tie seen in the poll averages of a number of key swing states--Ohio, Virginia, and Nevada, for example--may indeed suggest a race that will go down to the wire.