One need not look too hard to find a “moderate” pundit projecting his or her own desire for a third-party presidential campaign onto the public. This became especially fashionable a couple of weeks ago, when NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a bipartisan group of allies chatted in Oklahoma about some kind of independent bid. (Unity08 effectively closed its doors to concentrate on its Bloomberg-backing efforts.)
The David Broders of the world argue that most Americans, reasonable and in the center, are fed up with Democrats and Republicans, and are clamoring for someone new to step up and challenge the two parties. It sounds nice, but it’s not true. A new Gallup poll offers some interesting data:
[R]ecent Gallup polling has assessed some of the public’s attitudes that could be related to the ultimate success of an independent or third-party candidate running against the two major-party candidates this year. The data show that Americans are quite positive about the candidates running for president so far, and believe they have suggested good solutions to the nation’s problems, marking a sharp contrast with what these same measures showed in early 1992. Thus, while dissatisfaction in general is high, the American public does not appear to believe it is important or necessary for an independent candidate outside of the traditional two major parties to step into the race in order to save the nation.
Gallup asked, for example, “Is there any candidate running this year that you think would make a good president, or not?” At this point in the 1992 campaign, only 40% saw a good president among the candidates. In 1996, it was 57%. In March 2000, the number was 71%. Now, it’s 84%.
That’s pretty one-sided. In fact, 84% of Americans don’t agree on much, but they’re looking at the fields of presidential candidates and seem pretty satisfied.