Support for Third Political Party Reaches All-Time High — The Question Is, Is It a Viable Option?

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Given the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath, tens of millions of supporters of Donald Trump genuinely believe the election was rigged —”stolen,” if you will. Add in the internecine battle within the Republican Party, and once again there are calls in some quarters to form a third party – which presumably would be headed by Trump.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Trump has talked in recent days with political allies about forming a new party. Several aides and other people close to the former president said he would want to name the new party the “Patriot Party.”

While attempts to build a viable third party — usually by those who are dissatisfied with a prior election or aren’t happy with the direction of both the Democrat Pary and the Republican Party — can be alluring, third parties have typically failed to draw enough support to become a major factor in national elections.

Two examples.

Billionaire Ross Perot, who ran as an Independent in 1992, and in 2016 as the candidate of “The Reform Party” — which he formed — got roughly 19 percent of the popular vote in 1992, but failed to win a single electoral vote, given that all but two states — Nebraska and Maine — are winner-take-all, meaning 100 percent of a state’s electoral votes goes to the winner of the election, as opposed to proportionately, based on a candidate’s percentage of the overall popular vote.

Subsequently, Bill Clinton won the election over George H.W. Bush —who might very well have won the race if Perot had not run. Similarly, in 1912, former President Theodore Roosevelt and his allies formed the Bull Moose Party after he lost the nomination of the Republican Party to conservative incumbent President William Howard, who went on to lose the general election to Woodrow Wilson — handily so.

Given the outcome of the 2020 election, and subsequent battle, Trump and his supporters might very well argue “that was then, this is now” — perhaps with good cause, Although as a realist, I’m skeptical.

However, according to the results of a Gallup Poll released on Monday, sixty-two percent of participants agreed with the statement: “Both “parties do such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed.”

Eighty-seven percent of Republicans believe Trump should be allowed to hold elected office again, while three out of four Republicans want the former president to play a major role in the party in the future. As Josh Jordan — @NumbersMuncher — sees it, “the future of the GOP is controlled by Trump.”

Additionally, according to a recent Quinnipiac Poll, three out of four Republicans want to see Trump play a major role in the Republican Party moving forward, while 68 percent of Americans believe Trump could have done more to stop the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Then there’s Mitch McConnell.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been under intense fire both from rank-and-file Republican voters and at least several Republican lawmakers over his blistering takedown of Trump on Saturday — moments after he voted to acquit Trump in the impeachment trial. McConnell said, in part:

“There’s no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” Mr. McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader, declared Saturday afternoon in an anti-Trump diatribe so scathing that it could have been delivered by any of the nine House prosecutors seeking a conviction.

[..]

“They did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth — because he was angry he’d lost an election. Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty. The House accused the former President of, quote, ‘incitement.’ That is a specific term from the criminal law.

“Let me put that to the side for one moment and reiterate something I said weeks ago: There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day. “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their President.”

In what almost sounded like a plug, McConnell said that while he believed the Senate did not have the constitutional right to convict Trump, as a private citizen he could be charged in criminal or civil court — thus setting untold numbers of Republicans’ hair on fire. Words that could very well come back to haunt the Republican Party in the 2022 midterm elections, and/or the 2024 presidential election.

And so the question remains, due to Trump’s acquittal, is whether he is leaning toward a new party with his sights set on 2024.

I am among those who believe he will never run for office again. Once he’s been away from the daily skewering by the Democrat and sock-puppet media, I believe he will come to the conclusion that it’s not worth it anymore — let alone his ability to make “a lotta money,” as he often said.

Either way, Donald Trump is going to be around — being heard, loud and clear, no doubt — for some time to come.