Poll: 80% of Americans Open to Third Party Candidate for President, Independents' Independence Extends to the Religious Sphere

An extensive new poll from the Reason Foundation finds that 80% of Americans are open to the idea of voting for a third party or independent candidate in the 2012 presidential election, including 89% of Independents, 86% of Republicans and 71% of Democrats.  In other findings, it also appears that compared with people of other political persuasions, Independents are most likely to express independence not only from party, but also from church, temple or mosque. 

23% of those polled for the survey identified themselves as Independents, compared with 30.5% who confessed they are Republicans and 39% who admitted they are Democrats.  Given that 37% of all adults and 28% of likely voters consistently tell pollsters they are Independents, it may be the case that they are somewhat under-represented in the survey's sample by a margin greater than the poll's margin of error.  Nonetheless, 40% of Independents stated outright opposition to the Democratic and Republican parties, while 30% said they are "closer to" the Republicans and 23% said they lean more toward the Democrats.  Needless to say, Democrats and Republicans prefer the Democratic and Republican parties by wide margins. 

The survey also found that, compared with Republicans and Democrats, Independents are most likely to express independence from religion in addition to party.  Asked what their religious preference is, and prompted with a choice of "Protestant, Catholic, Jewish Muslim, some other religion or no religion," 24.4% of Independents stated that they prefer "no religion," compared with 17% of Democrats and 9.5% of Republicans who said they have no religious preference.  As a group, Independents are also significantly less likely to profess a religion than the population at large.  Overall, 16.2% of the survey's respondents answered "no religion" when asked what their religious preference is.

The survey reports (top-line and cross-tabs) are all available in full at Reason.  This week's column at CAIVN unpacks a few more of the poll's findings.  Excerpt:
Those who [said they were open to a third party candidate for president] included 89% of Independents, 83% of Tea Party supporters, 86% of Republicans, and even 71% of Democrats!  If these results are not simply a statistical fluke, they indicate an increasing openness on the part of the American public to consider political alternatives to the Democratic and Republican parties.  A WSJ/NBC poll from May 2010 found that 31% of Americans – a record high at the time – agreed with the statement that the two-party system is broken and a third party would be good for the country.  A Gallup poll from September 2010 reported that 58% of Americans thought the Democratic and Republican parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a major third party is necessary . . .


TiradeFaction said...

The BBC reports that religion is on the way out into the dumpster of history, in western nations at least.
To me, that's not a bad thing ;)

d.eris said...

wasn't there also another recent report which showed that the fastest growing "religious" group in the US are atheists and the non-religious, who are now at like 10-14%?

But really, it is quite interesting that 1 in 4 independents is apparently an atheist.

TiradeFaction said...

I don't think I've heard of that report before, if you ever find it do shoot it my way.

I'm not sure if Atheism per se is on the rise, but non religiosity is, and even non theism (which doesn't automatically equate to atheism) is. Perhaps why Independents are also independent from religion (as the two major political parties) is like with religion, their allegiance, and fondness for such institutions, is simply fading away. Just a thought.

d.eris said...

I think both atheism and non-religiosity are on the rise, with the former being a subset of the latter.

Here's the most recent American Religious Identification Survey:

And an article from US News from last year on the non-religious as the fastest growing "religious" group in the country:

With regard to such claims though it's important to remember that it's pretty easy to become the "fastest growing group" when your group is really small. If there's only one person in your "group", and then then next day someone else joins you, the size of your group just doubled in one day!