Fifty-two percent of Republicans want a major third party to compete with Democrats and the GOP, according to a Gallup poll released Monday. An even larger percentage of Tea Partiers, 60 percent, want a new party. The portion of Americans who want a third party has been at or above 50 percent since mid-2006, but this is the first time a majority of Republicans have felt that way since Gallup began asking the question in 2003. This is news Donald Trump can seize on--he's flirted with running as an independent once he's done flirting with running as a Republican in 2012.
Given that number and the number of Americans who think the country is on the wrong track, Gallup's Jeffrey Jones writes that "it would not be surprising if a third-party [presidential] candidate emerged." But that candidate would surely fail, since American elections are decided by plurality rule. Nevertheless, that hypothetical candidate could still be a major factor in the race, as is happening in the special election to replace former New York Rep. Chris Lee. A Tea Party candidate--and voters' disapproval of Republicans' plans to tinker with Medicare--has turned the election into a toss-up, The Hill's Michael O'Brien notes. In 1992, Ross Perot's candidacy helped Bill Clinton defeat incumbent George H.W. Bush. Obama must be hoping for a Trump candidacy more than ever.