As Donald Trump continues to unite the Republican party and Hillary Clinton inches closer to the Democratic nomination, the American public is growing increasingly unhappy with their choices.
My firm, Schoen Consulting, conducted a poll that found 20 percent of general election voters would support an independent candidate for president over Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. We found that in a match-up that included an independent, both Trump and Clinton would garner 33 percent of the vote, an independent would take in 20 percent of the vote and 14 percent of voters weren’t sure who they would support.
Furthermore, 61 percent of voters said that they weren’t satisfied with having to make a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. This is certainly linked to how unfavorably both candidates are viewed. Fifty-eight percent have an unfavorable view of Clinton and 59 percent have an unfavorable view of Trump.
But that isn’t the only critical element of this story. The interest in a third party candidacy is rooted in how negatively politicians in general are viewed – it’s not just Trump and Clinton.
With each election, Americans become more and more fed up with the two party system.
My poll found that an astounding 81 percent of Americans think that politicians put their own interests first and 79 percent believe that Washington is out of touch. As a consequence, 70 percent reported that they’d prefer an independent as compared to two flawed candidates.
As I’ve been arguing since Donald Trump came onto the scene about a year ago, Americans are fed up with how the system works. To this end, 80 percent of voters agreed with the statement “it’s time to try something new” by electing a president who is “committed to common sense, values, civility, and working to get things done.” Americans agree that the country is in trouble and that Democrats and Republicans have failed to solve any of the pressing issues that are hurting us like terrorism, illegal immigration, a broken healthcare system, and tackling our debt and deficit.
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These findings corroborate those from the Data Targeting poll, which found that 21 percent of Americans would support a generic independent candidate. What’s more, in this week’s ABC/Washington Post poll, when they tested a three-way hypothetical race with Trump, Clinton and Mitt Romney, Romney pulled in 22 percent of the vote. Amongst Republicans, Romney took in a third of GOP support highlighting persistent divisions within the GOP. For all the talk of unity these past few weeks, this figure shows that’s hardly the case.
It remains to be seen whether a legitimate third party bid is launched. Ballot access is perhaps the greatest threat to a candidacy, which is where Governor Gary Johnson who is running as a Libertarian has an advantage – he’s on the ballot in all 50 states.
The moral of the story is that though both parties would like you to think that the impending match-up between Clinton and Trump reflects the will of the people, the truth is that a substantial portion of Americans are going to be extremely disappointed with only two choices.
It remains to be seen whether anti-Trump GOP forces, led by William Kristol (who arranged my firm’s poll but had nothing to do with its content or analysis), will be able to get a viable third candidate out there. But what we do know, is that with each election, Americans become more and more fed up with the two party system.
Both the Democrats and the Republicans just aren’t getting the job done.
Douglas E. Schoen has served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton. He has more than 30 years experience as a pollster and political consultant. He is also a Fox News contributor and co-host of “Fox News Insiders” Sundays on Fox News Channel at 7 pm ET. He is the author of 12 books. His latest is “The Nixon Effect: How Richard Nixon’s Presidency Fundamentally Changed American Politics“ (Encounter Books, February 2016). Follow Doug on Twitter @DouglasESchoen.