Schoen, Caddell: Expect Third-Party Candidate

Thursday, 25 Aug 2011 10:29 AM

By Martin Gould

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Top Democratic pollsters Doug Schoen and Patrick Caddell predicted today that a third-party candidate will enter the presidential race as voters show their dissatisfaction with both major parties.

Americans are “searching beyond the two parties for bold and effective leadership,” Schoen and Caddell say in an article they wrote for The Wall Street Journal.

And they point to a poll that Schoen conducted showing that 57 percent of voters now say there is a need for a third party.

“The American people are desperate for a leader who stands outside of the political establishment currently running Washington. A leader who can speak for the American majority — offering not just rhetoric, but a new direction and a proven record of getting things done,” they say.


Both men have worked as pollsters for Democratic presidents, Caddell with Jimmy Carter and Schoen with Bill Clinton. They point to the challenges from third-party candidates John Anderson, who carried 7 percent of the vote, in 1980 and Ross Perot, who got nearly 19 percent 12 years later.

“We have seen in the past where economic distress and political alienation can lead,” the pollsters write. “And the conditions in those years were nowhere near as severe as they are today.”

The idea of a third-party candidate has been in the wind for some time as disillusion with both President Barack Obama and the crop of GOP candidates has grown. This month, former Clinton aide James Carville also predicted one would emerge, and former New York City Mayor Ed Koch told Newsmax he would like to see columnist George Will or current New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg run.

The Wall Street Journal article points to several places where the third-party candidate could crop up, a mercurial run from someone such as Donald Trump, from the center with a candidate from the bipartisan Americans Elect, or with a tea party candidate from the right.

“The tea party movement is functioning as a quasi-third party already, having already demonstrated an unprecedented level of activism, enthusiasm and influence over the primary and general-election outcomes during the 2010 midterms — and, most recently, driving the debate over the debt ceiling,” Schoen and Caddell say.

“The political order as we know it is deteriorating and disintegrating, and politics abhors a vacuum. So there is very good reason to believe that a credible third party, or even fourth political party, may be on the ballot in 2012. The American people clearly are looking for alternatives. Now.”

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