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Poll: Half of adults identify as independents, desire for 3rd party at record high

Election 2020 South Carolina Primary
Posted at 11:52 AM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 11:52:13-05

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A recent Gallup poll found half of U.S. adults now identify as political independents, the highest percentage the analytics company has ever measured in a single poll.

The same poll, conducted in late January and early February, determined that support for a third political party in the U.S. is at a high point, with 62% of adults saying the “parties do such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed.” That’s an increase from 57% in September.

Gallup first asked about the need for a third party in 2003. At that time, most Americans did not think it was necessary, with 56% saying the parties were doing an adequate job representing the American people and 40% saying a third party was needed.

As for how Americans believe Democrats and Republicans are doing, 33% believe the two major parties are doing an adequate job representing the public, the smallest percentage expressing this view apart from a 26% reading in 2013.

The survey found Americans' favorable opinion of the Republican Party has declined to 37%, while 48% view the Democratic Party positively.

The unfavourability of the GOP coincides with poll results that show Republicans are nearly as likely as independents to favor a third party. Usually, independents are much more likely to have this view.

Gallup says Republicans' record desire for a third party comes at a time when they are deciding whether to remain loyal to former President Donald Trump or to move on from him.

Currently, 68% of Republicans prefer that Trump remain the party leader, while 31% want the party to have a new leader. Republican-leaning independents, however, are divided, with 47% wanting Trump to continue leading and 51% preferring a new voice.

The survey also asked Republicans and GOP-leaning independents what direction they would like to see the party move in the future. A 40% plurality want the party to become more conservative, while 34% want it to stay the same and 24% to become more moderate.

Bottom line, Gallup says Americans’ desire for a third party has never been greater in the company’s nearly two decades of polling the subject.