Did Trump Just Launch America’s Third Party?
Mitch McConnell and other GOP bigwigs can deny that the Republican Party is in a state of civil war all they want. But the numbers tell a different tale. And the biggest under-reported story in America (shocker) is that the Democratic Party is also in the throes of its own ideological struggle. You can see that in the numbers, too…
So basically in the U.S. right now, we’ve got two dominant parties, both dealing with massive philosophical schisms between their centrists and their extremists. Neither party seems capable of bridging these divides, either. Their leaders seem to have wedged them so far into the most extreme corners of their respective ideologies that it may not even be possible to unite the disparate factions within them anymore.
If this is not a perfect environment for the rise of a third major American political party uniting the vast herds of ignored middle-grounders in the Republican, Independent, and Democratic constituencies, I don’t know what would be.
The crazy irony is that in confirming his allegiance to the GOP this past Sunday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)…
Donald Trump may have unintentionally launched the most viable third party in U.S. history
Of course, I realize that there are numerous political parties in America today. But when I talk about a “third party,” I mean one that could actually become a serious contender for power in the Washington political machine, which is clearly slanted to favor the existing two-party system.
In the last hundred years of U.S. history, third parties really haven’t gotten a whole lot of traction on the national stage. Yeah, Ross Perot upset the apple cart in 1992 as an Independent, winning 19% of the vote and arguably handing the White House to Bill Clinton. And Independent John Anderson got 6.6% of the vote in the 1980 election, which was significant, but not nearly enough to prevent Reagan’s epic drubbing of Jimmy Carter…
Then there’s George “segregation forever” Wallace. After three prior runs as a Democrat, he ran third-party for the Oval Office in 1968 — and managed to win five states and a single unpledged electoral vote. Other than these, I can’t think of any other consequential third-party U.S. presidential runs in the last century.
Right now, however, the stars seem to be aligning for a third major American political party more so than at any other point in recent history. Or perhaps ever.
Before Trump’s speech at CPAC this past weekend, I’d thought the odds were good that he’d be the one to start a new party. But in his lengthy address at the annual gathering of conservatives, Trump denied any third-party aspirations and made it perfectly plain that he intends to wield heavy influence over the Republican Party for the next four years, even teasing strongly at a third run for the presidency.
The GOP leadership is clearly divided over that. So are the party’s rank and file, for that matter. And its voter base, too. Again, you can see this in the numbers:
- 55% — By straw poll, the percentage of CPAC attendees (a Trump-friendly gathering, by all accounts) who claim they would vote for The Donald in the 2024 presidential primary race
- 53% — By the January 2021 American Perspectives Survey, the percentage of 2020 Trump voters who identified themselves primarily as GOP supporters rather than Trump supporters
- 37% — By the same survey, the percentage of Republicans in general (not just Trump voters) who consider themselves supporters of Donald Trump more than the GOP itself, a dramatic decline since last fall
- 63% — By recent Gallup poll, the percentage of Republican voters who now say a third party is necessary, up dramatically from a normal range of 36%-47% over the last 15 years
- 120 — The number of high-level Republicans, including members of former GOP administrations, who gathered in February to discuss forming a new center-right party
Other telling statistics: 48% of Americans overall believe Trump encouraged the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill violence, another 14% are unsure. Even among identified Republicans, this combined number is 27%.
One last telltale statistic: Even though only 55% of CPAC attendees would vote for Trump in a primary for the 2024 presidency, 97% of respondents approved of his performance as president. That’s pretty strong evidence that Donald Trump’s actions after Election Day — and what’s been revealed about his personality since that day — are causing the rift in the GOP, not disagreements about policy.
The problem is that by all indications, Trump isn’t going to allow the Republican Party to find a standard-bearer who’s like him, but who isn’t him.
He’s going to hang around, polarizing both the GOP leadership and the general public — and likely costing the elephants every election from now until he’s no longer on the scene, for whatever reason. And just for the record, I as much as predicted all this in my articles from Dec 1, 2020, and Jan 14, 2021.
But we’re talking about third parties here. So let’s shift gears a little and take a quick look at the Democrat side of that coin…
There’s big trouble in the donkey pen, too
As I mentioned at the top here, if the Republican Party can be said to be in a state of ideological civil war, the same could be said of the Democratic Party. They’re in the midst of the biggest political identity crisis I’ve ever seen — much more so than the GOP, in terms of conflicting governing philosophies…
The difference is that the fawning leftists in charge of Big Media and Big Tech have their tongues crammed so far up the Democrat machine’s exhaust pipe they couldn’t talk about this identity crisis even if they wanted to (and they don’t). But like I said, you can see it in the numbers:
- By recent Gallup poll of Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independents, 34% want the party to go farther left, 34% want it to be more moderate, and 31% like it where it is, ideologically — a pretty much even three-way split, hardly a consensus or coalition
- 2020 exit polling data shows declining levels of Democrat support in several key demographics — including protestants, non-religious voters, blacks, and self-defined racial “others” — back to 2004 levels, from Obama-era highs
- According to WSJ/NBC and Edison Research exit poll data, the non-college-educated white male vote was split dead-even at the national level between Democrats and Republicans in 2008 — but by 2020, 70% of them were voting for Trump
- Also according to exit polling research, LGBTQ voters — always taken for granted as a Democratic voting bloc — have turned toward the GOP in greater numbers as an overall trend through the last four presidential election cycles, and are substantially farther right today than they were when Obama left office
As usual, I could cite more of this kind of data. But I really don’t need to…
Even without a bunch of numbers, anyone with two eyes and a brain can see the struggle between the neo-socialist far-left, garden-variety liberal, and moderate factions of the Democratic Party — and how it’s affecting that party’s constituencies.
You can see it in the militant green agenda that’s now infusing just about every policy platform Biden’s pushing. Is killing tens of thousands of American energy jobs and saddling wage-earning Americans with higher fuel costs and more expensive (yet less capable) electric vehicles going to help Democrats hang onto the moderate, working- and middle-class voters they’re clearly hemorrhaging?
You can see it at our southern border. Is allowing a flood of “undocumented” immigrants into the country to take jobs from citizens — and jacking up taxes on all Americans to pay for welfare, healthcare, and programs for those illegals — going to endear Democrats to the political middle-ground they so desperately need to hold?
You can see it in The People’s Republic of China. Is hobbling America’s industrial sectors by rejoining the insane Paris Agreement — which puts severe, regressive restrictions on the U.S., but virtually none on ultra-polluter China — the best way to increase American manufacturing jobs, both generally and through the re-shoring of our critical supply chains?
You can also see the Democratic Party’s rift in the partisan infighting on The Hill itself — like moderates Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema being forced to go to the mattresses against arch-liberals Schumer, Durbin, and others over eliminating the legislative filibuster in the Senate.
There’s more I could say, too, but it’s all leading up to the same point…
Both these partisan “civil wars” could create the most powerful party in America
Despite all the wind-testing and carefully framed rhetoric from high-profile Republicans (especially McConnell), the twice-impeached Donald Trump is not a viable candidate for president anymore — regardless of whether he ran third-party or as the GOP nominee.
That’s because he’s totally “lost the middle” with his lies, denial, bullying, frivolous legal actions, and generally undignified conduct in the weeks following Election Day.
The disgraceful Capitol Hill assault and breach was likely the final nail in his political coffin, regardless of the degree to which he may have been responsible for it.
True or not, in the eyes of swing voters who actually decide the outcomes of close presidential elections in America, Trump will forever be a deluded narcissist who sicced his rabid mob of brainwashed goons on the Capitol to prevent his opponent’s legitimate election. And who downplayed COVID.
The bottom line is this: With Donald J. Trump in the candidate mix, the GOP is pretty much screwed coming and going — at least as far as the presidency is concerned. If he decides to run as a Republican in 2024, like he’s been teasing, I can’t see the moderates and principled conservatives in the party turning out for him…
And if he leaves to start his Patriot Party, he’ll take enough voters with him to spoil the chances of any other GOP candidate to win the White House. That’s really all there is to it. At this point, Trump can be either a kingmaker or a spoiler for the Republicans, but not a president.
The irony, as I touched on at the beginning here, is that in declaring his allegiance to the GOP, Trump may have opened the door for a third major American political party with the potential to be much bigger and more powerful than one he’d create and lead himself. Think about it for a second…
No party led by Donald Trump has any realistic hope of being able to swing large numbers of moderates — or poach voters from the Democrat mainstream anymore. Maybe at one time, but not now. You can see that in the numbers, too. According to Gallup, 51% of Americans viewed the Trump-led Republican Party favorably last January. But by November, that number had fallen to 43%. Today, it’s only 37%.
But a new party started by moderate or libertarian-leaning Republican defectors absolutely could appeal to this vast middle-ground. Because the GOP’s rational, small-government core ideas continue to win elections — even now. You can see that in the 2020 House and Senate races, and recent state-level contests, too. People from many points across the political spectrum want to vote for those ideas.
You can clearly see the potential for this new third party in a single statistic…
According to the January 2021 American Perspectives Survey, 70% of Democrats and 66% of Republicans believe that the U.S. system of democracy serves only the wealthy and powerful. Those are big numbers, with remarkable cross-partisan consistency, that represent a whole lot of people who could form the base for a new populo-centrist political party.
And you can clearly see the desire for such a party in another statistic…
From recent Gallup polling, 62% of American adults across all political affiliations —not just Republicans — now believe the country needs a third party. That’s by far the highest reading in their 18 years worth of data tracking this sentiment.
Add all this up and it’s not hard see how a mass defection of both disenchanted Republicans and disenfranchised moderate Democrats could join with Independents, Libertarians, and other sane, common-sense Americans to form a powerful new party as a foil to the increasingly extreme positions on both poles of the current political spectrum in the United States.
Call me a “raging moderate” if you want — but this sounds pretty good to me right about now.
How about you?
Freedoms Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder
P.S. Here’s a statistic from the “you can’t make this stuff up” file…
According to the American Perspectives Survey, 29% of Republican respondents believe to one degree or another that Donald Trump was secretly fighting a global child sex trafficking ring that includes prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites.
As a long-time card-carrying Republican, this is the sort of statistic that makes me yearn for a Grand New Party — like I laid out in my Jan. 14 piece. Or something.
Just sayin,’ folks. Might be time.