A recently released Rasmussen reports poll found that 58% of Americans think that it would be good for the nation if it had a competitive third political party. Only 23% of those who were asked disagreed, and 19% were not sure. However, opinions on this idea vary greatly by age. 65% of those under 40 believe that a third political party would be good for the nation, but only 43% of those over age 65 agreed with them. This same poll also asked people if they thought the 2008 election campaign has started too soon. 58% said that the campaign has started too soon, while 70% of Republicans felt this way only 45% of Democrats agreed.
Oddly enough, Americans are divided as to whether or not the caucus and primary system is the best way to select nominees. 37% of those asked think that the current system is a good way to select each partyâ€™s nominee, but 36% of those asked disagreed with this view, and 27% arenâ€™t sure. Once again, there is a generation gap in opinions on the system. Just 44% of those under 30 think that the current system is good, but 72% of senior citizens like the way things are done now. Also, Republicans favor the primary system more (47%) than Democrats (40%) or Independents (24%)
This poll is interesting because it highlights the belief that many people hold, especially younger ones, that there isnâ€™t much of a difference between the two U.S. political parties. I am of the opinion that as organizations there is little difference between the two parties. I think that a strong third party could force Democrats and Republicans to stop bickering with each other and talk about the issues. The problem is that the current system is set up in such a way as to keep third parties out of the national political process. The two major parties have set up hurdles to third parties getting on the ballot in each state, taking part in the debates, and even fundraising. Even though it would good for America to have a more open democracy, it is going to take a special combination of people, events, and resources to make this happen. Â
Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com. Â His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics