Poll: Non-existent Third Party More Popular than Republicans and Democrats, Independents Outnumber Republicans, Democrats

The NBC/WSJ opinion poll released yesterday asked respondents to rate the favorability of the "Tea Party movement" alongside that of prominent political figures, major parties etc. Both the MSNBC and WSJ blogs were quick to point out, respectively, that "the conservative, libertarian-leaning Tea Party movement is more popular than either the Democratic or the Republican parties" and that "the Tea Party movement currently boasts higher favorability ratings than either the Democratic or Republican Parties." Eager to dismiss the findings, at the Washington Monthly, Steve Benen writes, quoting Media Matters:
About half the country has no idea what the "Tea Party movement" is. Only 7% said they know a great deal about the effort . . . comparing a "party" most of the country doesn't recognize with Democrats and Republicans doesn't make a lot of sense. For that matter, Eric Boehlert questioned the utility of polling a "party" that doesn't, you know, exist (it has no candidates, no platform, no organizational structure, no ballot line, etc.):

I'm not surprised because the Tea Party is a faceless movement that has doesn't actually stand for anything specific, so people can pretend it's whatever they want it to be. It's an utterly pointless polling exercise because people have an ingrained idea of who the Democrats are and what they stand for politically. Same with Republicans. But the non-existent Tea Party, for now, can be whatever voters want it to be.

Earlier this month, Richard Winger of Ballot Access News leveled the same criticism against a Rasmussen poll inquiring as to support for a generic "Tea Party candidate":
There is no such political party. One wishes Rasmussen Polls had done a poll that asks voters to choose among parties that actually exist. The results are: Democratic 36%, Tea Party 23%, Republican 18%, other or undecided 22%.
Despite the fact that it does not exist, the "Tea Party" has apparently become more popular over the last three weeks, outpacing first the Republicans and now the Democrats. Boehlert's analysis perhaps unwittingly underscores the significance of this contradiction: people have an "ingrained idea" of who and what the Democrats and Republicans are, while the Tea Party "can be whatever voters want it to be." Stated differently, people know exactly who and what the Democratic and Republican Parties are, they also know who and what they stand for, who and what they represent. And they likely reject Democrats and Republicans on the basis of this knowledge. Support for a non-existent "Tea Party" among a large plurality of the population is a negative indication of the fact that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are "what voters want."

The poll also found that self-described independents (including so-called "leaners") outnumber both Republicans and Democrats (including so-called "leaners"): 1) strict Independents, independents who lean Democrat, and those who lean Republican accounted for 42% of the response; 2) very strong Democrats, not very strong Democrats and Independents who lean Democrat accounted for 40%; and 3) very strong Republicans, not very strong Republicans and Independents who lean Republican totaled 34%.

Update: One more anti-incumbent tidbit from this poll: 38% of respondents stated that their congressional representative "deserves to be reelected", while 49% would prefer to "give a new person a chance."


rosey said...


Thanks for the "News link" to my article from "America's Living Room" regarding the unravelling of the "two party system". What an honor.

It was amazing that when I wrote and posted my article I was utilizing the latest poll out there as my source until later today the NBC/WSJ poll came out and furthered my point.

I want to say how refreshing it is to see this movement (which started in Boston Harbor) take off with such ferocity today. It is a testament to the impetus that broke the yoke of tyrany of oppressive rule, taxation without representation and supreme independance. All of which we are re-living today in tea party fashion that exudes "Americana"!

It is equally as fitting that the movement itself began with a liberal business show on MSMBC on the floor of the Chicago Merantile by a liberal (who was lambasted by the MSM and his bretheren as a "ranter").

Every attempt to ignore, diminish and excoriate this movement show how out of step and elitist they are. Obama ignoring the millions outside his "Helo-One" while going out the "back door of the White House to little old ladies being arrested in Barbara Boxer's office, to being likened to Terrorists, Thugs, Mobs and "right wing extremists" just fuels the rage even more so.

Your site is just one example of this growing need to be heard and being the force to be reckoned with.

Thanks for all you have done and in the infamous words of Sean Hannity "Your a great American"!


America's Living Room

d.eris said...

Thanks Rosey. In your post you criticize Limbaugh for his attacks on independent and third party activism, I've touched on the same point a number of times here. Speaking of Hannity, what's his position on the independent, third party issue? He was a big supporter of the tea parties early on.

Donald Borsch Jr. said...

d. eris,

Hello from Bethel, CT! I am here because of Rosey. He gave your blog address to me and here I am.

Good stuff. Seriously good stuff. I wish I would have known about you all sooner. As a Constitution Party fella, I thought at times that us Third Partiers were a myth. Nice to see I am wrong.

It should go without saying that I have added you to my blog list! I will be following you closely, now that I know you are here.

Samuel Wilson said...

Saw your update and was interested by the way the poll question was phrased. So a big number want to try out "a new person." That begs the question of who is new. The two major parties have prospered despite countless setbacks because they're always able to bring forward "new people" whom they favorably contrast not only with incumbents of the opposite party, but with discredited predecessors from the current opposition. Expect Republicans to try this again everywhere next year. Against such likelihood, let's hope that the people polled insist on really new people.

d.eris said...

Donald, well thanks for stopping by. We talked a few weeks back in your comments section. I just saw your series of posts on the decision against infiltrating the GOP.

We third partiers certainly aren't a myth. Though many like to pretend we don't exist.

d.eris said...

Sam, "a new person" is perfectly ambiguous for the purposes of the poll. The previous question asked "what is your preference for the outcome of next year's congressional elections? A congress controlled by Republicans or a congress controlled by Democrats?" Response: Democrat 43&, Republican 41%, not sure 16%.

These sorts of questions make local and state level elections dependent on idealized national outcomes. I'd like to look into this totalizing impulse, for lack of a better term, a bit more at some point.