Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2015

Publication Title

Public Opinion Quarterly


Drawing on survey data from ANES, Gallup, Pew, and other polls, this article examines attitudes toward the parties and the party system from 1996 to 2014. A previous Poll Trends analysis of the parties, through 1995, found antipathy toward the party system but not toward the parties themselves. The data since 1996 demonstrate that extreme discontent now extends beyond the party system to the Republican and Democratic parties. The data also show that Americans have grown more likely to see sharp differences between the major parties, and to perceive both parties as too ideological. As for the party system, Americans express a high degree of ambivalence. On one hand, many believe that the major parties do not do an adequate job of representing the people, and that the country needs a third political party. On the other hand, there is skepticism that a third party would improve the quality of American democracy. Surveys continually register almost no support or even willingness to seriously consider support for a third-party candidate.





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