Quarter of Americans Have Voted Third Party for President

Posted November 4, 2003 at 2:34pm

Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed by Gallup, CNN and USA Today in mid-September said they had voted for an Independent or third-party candidate for president in the past. [IMGCAP(1)]

In a separate question, 23 percent said they would like to see 2000 Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader run for president in 2004, but 66 percent would not.

In the mid-October Princeton Survey Research Associates/Pew Research Center poll, 46 percent agreed that the United States should have a third major political party; 44 percent disagreed.

In the late October ABC News/Washington Post poll, 47 percent said we should have one or two more political parties in addition to the Democratic and Republican parties, but 51 percent said the two parties are enough.

Pride and the President. In mid-October, 56 percent of those surveyed by Zogby International said they were “proud” to have George W. Bush as president, while 26 percent were “ashamed.”

It’s only the second time the question has been asked about Bush. In January 2002, shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, 78 percent said they were proud to have Bush as president, while 10 percent said they were ashamed.

In January 2001 just as then-President Bill Clinton was leaving office, 45 percent told Zogby that they were proud to have him as president; 41 percent said ashamed.

Are You Better Off? In a variant of the question Ronald Reagan posed in his October 1980 debate with President Jimmy Carter, 50 percent told Gallup, CNN and USA Today interviewers Oct. 10-12 that they were better off than they were three years ago, but 42 percent said they were not.

In the late October ABC News/Washington Post poll, 22 percent said they were better off financially than they were when Bush became president, 50 percent about the same and 27 percent not as well off.

Covering Iraq. In the late-October PSRA/Pew poll, 40 percent said news reports are making the situation in Iraq seem worse than it really is, and 12 percent said the reports make it seem better. Thirty-six percent said the reports are showing the situation about the way it really is.

In a mid-October Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, when people were given only two options, 60 percent said news reports from Iraq were more likely to focus on the negative things and leave out the positive ones; 19 percent said just the opposite.

Dick Who? In a Gallup survey taken in August and September, 69 percent could name the current vice president, Dick Cheney. But 31 percent could not.

Seventeen percent could name the chief justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist.

Among the other results, 92 percent could name George Washington as the first president, 67 percent knew that Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, and 59 percent that each state has two Senators.

Karlyn Bowman is a resident fellow specializing in public opinion and polls at the American Enterprise Institute.