Gallup finds ‘minimal support’ for alternative presidential candidates

Frank Newport of the Gallup Poll writes, “A recent Gallup Poll in which four third-party candidates were explicitly listed for voters along with the two major-party candidates found only minimal support for any candidate other than John McCain or Barack Obama. Ralph Nader (independent candidate) received 2% of voter choices, Bob Barr (Libertarian Party) and Cynthia McKinney (Green Party) 1%, and Chuck Baldwin (Constitution Party) received less than 1%. The two major-party candidates, Obama and McCain, combined to receive 90% of registered voters’ choices. The percentage of voters choosing Nader has declined from 4% in a similar poll a month ago.”

31 thoughts on “Gallup finds ‘minimal support’ for alternative presidential candidates

  1. der

    Which is obvious when other candidates aren’t allow into the debates to spread their message.

    The Republicrats have done an excellent job of establishing a monopoly on power so it is obvious why third party candidates would receive little support. Especially when the vast majority of Americans receive their news from major media outlets.

  2. Thomas M. Sipos

    Negative campaigning also plays a key role.

    The Republicans and Democrats do such an effective job of demonizing each other, that by November most Americans would for whichever candidate can most likely beat the other major party’s Satan incarnate.

    For instance, I’m certain that many “Libertarians” will vote for McCain/Palin because they fear that Obama is a closet Muslim who’ll dig a secret tunnel from the White House to Mecca.

  3. darolew

    “Obama is a closet Muslim who’ll dig a secret tunnel from the White House to Mecca.”

    Man, I’d vote for that president. That would be one of the most awesome things a president has ever done, wasted tax-payer dollars be damned.

  4. JimDavidson

    It is sort of interesting, though, as a social phenomenon, that there is very little interest in Peter Orvetti’s poll in the major party candidates. Of 1,468 votes cast in Peter’s poll, only 196 are for McCain (91 or 6.2%) or Obama (105 or 7.2%) right now.

    So, there are two separate populations. One is mostly interested in the major party candidates, the other is mostly interested in minor party candidates.

  5. richardwinger

    Gallup Polls this year don’t mention any other candidates than Obama or McCain. Other candidates only register support if the voter volunteers someone else. Therefore, Gallup is about the least reliable poll this year for Nader, Barr, McKinney, Baldwin, etc.

    The Ralph Nader campaign has been lambasting Gallup in particular for this characteristic.

  6. inDglass

    The Republicrats have done an excellent job of establishing a monopoly on power so it is obvious why third party candidates would receive little support.

    While monopoly is an exceptable term, mono means one. It’s technically a duopoly.

  7. Austin Cassidy

    I would suspect the biggest question will be “how close is this race?” come Halloween.

    If McCain or Obama has a reliable and established 10% lead… I could easily imagine Barr and Nader breaking 1 or 2 million each.

    If the race is another 47-45% contest going into the final days, then I would expect Nader might squeak out a million and Barr would do well with 600,000.

  8. Chris Cole

    This is about what von Mises called “rent-seeking”. The mainstream media want to be seen as great prognosticators, so they set up a self-fulfilling prophecy: they determine in advance who is “winnable”, then refuse to write anything about the disfavored candidates. When those candidates do poorly as a result, the media pat themselves on the back and congratualte themselves for their forethought.

  9. Austin Cassidy

    Not really. It’s not a conspiracy. If Bob Barr was polling at 4% nationally, he’d be getting way more attention… or 6%… but he’s at 1% or 2%. If you can’t rise outside the margin of error of a poll, you’re not really taken seriously.

    It’s certainly possible to breakthrough.

    Look at Dean Barkley in Minnesota. You have a qualified candidate, he’s rising in the polls, and he’s earned a spot in the debates. He might even win. And the media is certainly paying attention now.

    Barr is well qualified and has a good amount of name recognition, but there doesn’t seem to be much public interest in his campaign for whatever reason. He’s not raising Ron Paul money. He’s not getting Dean Barkley grassroots support.

    It’s not all a media conspiracy. The media is lazy, they’ll write whatever falls into their lap. And they focus on what sells newspapers and brings in viewers.

    Just like how CBS will show an NFL football game, but ignore an Arena League game. If the Arena League had enough fans, they’d show Arena Football all day long. But it just doesn’t.

    Third parties need to put most of their resources into state and local races. Places where they can win and prove themselves.

  10. Denver Delegate

    For instance, I’m certain that many “Libertarians” will vote for McCain/Palin because they fear that Obama is a closet Muslim who’ll dig a secret tunnel from the White House to Mecca.

    And there are many Libertarians, including me, who would vote for Obama (if I lived in a swing state) because the GOP deserves to be punished.

    http://www.libertyunbound.com/article.php?id=24

  11. inDglass

    Yes, Austin. Barr is a good example. He was getting reasonable media coverage in the two weeks following his nomination. I reported on this back in June. Barr failed to transfer his name recognition, LP nomination, media exposure, and the strong following of the libertarian message already built by Ron Paul into fundraising, grassroots campaigning, and poll results. He didn’t come within $38 million of his $40 million fundraising goal, and he dropped in nearly all state and national polls over the last 2 months. His campaign has become a joke, while when it started it looked like it would be the most successful in LP history. Barr’s failures make it easy for the media to ignore him.

  12. Austin Cassidy

    It might very well be the most successful in LP history in terms of vote count. But that’s not really a big bar to jump.

  13. Mike Gillis

    Is that a pun, Austin? 😉

    But seriously, there is media bias against third parties. Not an overarching conspiracy, but they treat many major party candidates are “newsworthy” before they even announce their campaigns, register in polls or raise a dollar.

    I mean, in 2000, Ralph Nader sold out Madison Square Garden at 7 bucks a pop and barely got a blip and a story in the middle of the New York Times. Gore went on vacati0n with his family and got front page coverage.

    Even earlier this year, cameras followed Obama to Puerto Rico where he vacationed with his wife and kids. Nader and Barr have to work hard to get the media to show up at an event in the same city as their papers or stations.

    And that lack of coverage affects their poll numbers. It’s a self perpetuating circle, but there are easy ways to separate serious candidates from not-so-serious ones.

    And even if they had given Nader and Barr media comparable to their polls numbers, it would help. But we have to fight for even that.

  14. Chris Cole

    Austin, your experience with the media must have been different from mine. I am polling consistently at 6%, outside the margin of error. Yet, when the results of one such poll were reported, I found four news outlets (including three of the regional newspapers) that had reported the poll, but taken my name and results OUT of the story. When I contacted the respective reporters one didn’t respond, one said she “forgot”, one said it was “a no-brainer” (whatever he meant by that), and the fourth actually said that his editors told him to leave out that part of the poll. And NONE of them printed a correction. I’m not usually one to go for conspiracies, but that’s the damndest chain of mental lapses I’m aware of.

  15. Steven R Linnabary

    I seriously doubt if the republican party is infiltrating the Green Party in any way, though it would seem to be in their interest to do so. The fact that a couple of Green candidates do not follow the Green Platform, or “Ten Key Values”, is reminiscent of many LP candidates that don’t appear to have even read the LP Platform.

    Barr did get some decent media coverage in the early days. Back in the days when there was little to report on the McBama campaign.

    But back then, it was probably expected that Barr would be spending money on ads. Ads that never developed. Most media will not give much coverage to any candidate that isn’t on their radar. And their radar is what comes through their sales department.

    Badnarik (and Peroutka) got NO media coverage until a few days before the election, when he suddenly came up with enough money to run ads on FOX and MSNBC. Suddenly Badnarik was on several news shows.

    PEACE
    Steve

  16. AnthonyD

    inDglass,

    I’ve read some doozies on the internet in terms of political analysis, but yours’ in post #15 might take the cake as the worst ever.

    However badly Barr is doing in terms of monetary and poll support, he is doing no worse than any previous Libertarian nominee. Like Austin indicated in post #16, Barr has a chance to be the most successful LP candidate ever, even though that aint saying much.

    I don’t know how long you have been a Libertarian (or if you even are one), but I still do see Barr getting some national media attention on CNN, fox, and the like. Compare this to our last candidate, who was lucky to get local radio interviews on 5,000 watt penny-ante am stations.

    Comparing Barr’s results so far to RP, who was running for the REPUBLICAN nomination and was the beneficiary of the overwhelming coverage of the two-party duopoloy is ludicrous.

    Had RP switched to the LP prior to the Republican nominating process and ran strictly as a Libertarian, it is unlikely he would be getting much more support than Barr. Such is the fate of 3rd party candidates, which is exactly what RP pointed out repeatedly when asked why he would not run a 3rd party campaign.

  17. Mike Gillis

    “Had RP switched to the LP prior to the Republican nominating process and ran strictly as a Libertarian, it is unlikely he would be getting much more support than Barr.”

    I think this is false. Paul would have begun his third party campaign with tens of millions of dollars, an already-built campaign team, a mobilized base who wasn’t likely to vote major party and much more name and media recognition.

    And he would have likely inspired some sort of CP/LP fusion campaign – something Barr would be incapable of.

    At one point, he was shown to poll at about 8% nationally. Had he run, I believe he could have maintained that and pulled Perot ’96 style numbers.

  18. AnthonyD

    Mike,

    Read my post again. I posited that if Paul had switched parties BEFORE the republican nominating process had begun (i.e., did not appear in the Republican debates), he would be receiving not much more support than Barr is currently getting. The main reason for the success of the R3VOLution is that RP was doing it through the vehicle of the Republican Party.

    The bottom line is, it is unfair to compare Barr’s campaign as the LP nominee with Paul’s campaign for the RP nomination. Compare Barr with other LP campaigns, and compare Paul with other Republican campaigns.

  19. AnthonyD

    Mike,

    Otherwise, I agree 100% with your analysis of what RP could have done. The fact that RP did not follow up on the critical mass he helped start is his fault and his fault alone.

  20. JimDavidson

    But, AnthonyD, Ron Paul has followed up upon the critical mass he developed. He and others (Trevor Lyman, notably) continue to have a following, and continue to fund projects. They have money which Barr seems to be unable to find in similar amounts.

    Funny thing, one of Ron’s follow ups was to invite third party candidates to agree on four points related to liberty. Ron got four candidates to agree to show up at a press conference using some of the money Ron raised to support them. Then one of those candidates was a no-show. So, who is to blame for not following up? Hmmm.

    Douglass (inDglass) is not going to be invariably favorable to Barr, I’m sure. He has principles, you know. Well, I know, since he’s the head of the Indiana state affiliate for Boston Tea Party.

    If the Barr campaign has done about as well as one of Harry Browne’s campaigns in terms of funding, and about as well as Andrew Marrou in terms of ballot access, and about as well as David Bergland in terms of unifying the libertarian vote, why do you, Austin Cassidy, think Barr could get more votes than any other presidential candidate.

    Ross Levin, you are mistaken. All day, Ralph Nader has been winning the poll on PollDaddy, on this site. So, apparently there are some voters in this poll who are not IPR and BTP readers.

  21. Ross Levin

    Holy crap. I just checked it and since last night about 1500 more people voted and most of them voted for Nader. I’ll bet it’s posted on a Nader-related site somewhere, too.

    If it’s posted in places that support one candidate, it’s obviously going to tilt the poll one way or another.

  22. JimDavidson

    Many of them voted Cynthia McKinney.

    I posted it to the Boston Tea Party web site some days back, and to our Facebook group. Even so, Charles is in third place.

  23. citizen1

    I was asked by a pollster years ago when I was running for congress which Republicrat I was voting for. I answered with my name I was on the ballot. The said ok I will put you down as undecided. They did the same for governor when I answered Joe Zdonczyk who was also on the ballot. Polls should be required by law to ask all the candidates that are the ballot. I would be curious what the results would be of a poll that asked “who are you going to vote for Barr, Baldwin or McKinney?”

  24. inDglass

    citizen1, requiring the polls to include all candidates on the ballot by law would be unfair. Many parties, candidates, and media outlets pay for polls which ask different combinations of candidates. This allows them to see how certain candidates match up against each other.

    On the other hand, I like to point out that a poll makes itself inaccurate when it does not list all candidates on the ballot. When I voter is annoyed with the two major candidates but uninformed about the third, he may walk into the voting booth and pick the third. By not offering that option in the poll, you skew the results, which could come back to hurt whoever commissioned the poll.

  25. G.E.

    I was asked by a pollster years ago when I was running for congress which Republicrat I was voting for. I answered with my name I was on the ballot. The said ok I will put you down as undecided.

    I had the same experience.

    They then followed up with, “How likely is it that you’ll vote in the congressional election?”

  26. Galileo Galilei

    “I was asked by a pollster years ago when I was running for congress which Republicrat I was voting for. I answered with my name I was on the ballot. The said ok I will put you down as undecided.”

    Our 1998 Wisconsin LP candidate for governor had the same thing to him (Jim Mueller). He told the pollster he was NOT undecided, he said he was voting for himself.

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