Don't tell the mainstream media, however Gallup is out with a new poll this morning touting America's frustration with the two older political parties and a pent up desire for alternatives. Third parties, such as the Libertarian Party and the Green Party, are already benefiting from this trend away from the Republican and Democratic parties as their membership and voter registration numbers increase each year.
According to Jared Grifoni, a member of the Executive Committee for the Libertarian Party of Florida (LPF), the LPF "membership has increase[d] 1200% in the last year and voter registration has increased about 20% at the last quarterly check."
According to the Gallup poll 60% of Americans say the Democratic and Republicans parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed. That is the highest Gallup has measured in the 10-year history of this question. A new low of 26% believe the two major parties adequately represent Americans.
The challenge for third parties is getting the media exposure so they are seen by the public in the same light as the two larger, older political parties. A perfect example of this can be seen in the race for governor in Virginia. It was not until the mainstream media began covering Libertarian Party candidate Robert Sarvis that his polling numbers shot up from 3% to 12.7%. It is unfortunate the coverage did not begin earlier so more Virginians would be able to make a more informed decision. The proven key for third parties to be competitive is breaking through the media barrier.
As we wrote yesterday, there is a built-in bias in polling as well. Often Libertarian Party candidates consistently get excluded from debates around the country because they do not meet certain criteria - reaching a certain percentage in the polls. However, more often than not, their name is never included in the poll required for inclusion, so there by they are not permitted to participate. This is done by design to exclude third party candidates and keep the Republican and Democratic candidates in the forefront of America's minds.
On a national level another example can be seen with the 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson campaign. Johnson was purposefully excluded from debating Barack Obama and John McCain because he did not meet the criteria in polling, however his name was not mentioned in the polling in order to qualify.