The ongoing budget showdown and government shutdown in Washington, D.C. has left more Americans than ever dissatisfied with the current state of politics. A new Gallup poll finds that 60% of respondents think that Democrats and Republicans are not doing an adequate job and that a third major political party is needed. "That is, by at least a couple of points, the highest we've seen in the history of asking the question," says Dr. Frank Newport with Gallup. He tells KTRH that the numbers are indicative of an even larger trend in the survey. "The number one problem facing the country now is not jobs or the economy or healthcare, but it is dysfunction in Washington," he says. "That's the first time we've ever seen that as the top problem facing the country."
The survey found that just 26% of respondents think the country's two major parties are representing Americans. About half of Republicans and Democrats want to see a third party, but 71% of independents support the idea. Despite those numbers, Dr. Newport notes that actual success for third-party candidates is often hard to come by. "They generally have to be highly unusual in terms of name ID, like the ex-wrestler who became governor of Minnesota (Jesse Ventura), or have deep pockets like Texas' own H. Ross Perot," he says. Perot, the Texas billionaire who garnered 19% of the national vote in the 1992 Presidential election, later failed to gain any political traction with his Reform Party.
Whether or not a viable third party actually emerges in the years to come, the results of the survey should serve as a wake-up call to current members of Congress and all members of both major political parties, according to Dr. Newport. "Members of Congress are slightly higher than car salesmen on our list of honesty and ethics, but that's it," he says. "Otherwise they are at the dead bottom." The survey of just over 1,000 adults was conducted during the first week in October, days into the federal government shutdown.