Categorized | Commentary/Editorial

ABC-WaPo Poll: Conservatives Not Crazy About GOP, Broad Interest For a Third Party Alternative

Those are two conclusions one can draw from an ABC News-Washington Post poll released today:

Favorable views of the Democratic Party have fallen to their lowest since the Reagan landslide of 1984. Even fewer Americans see the Republican Party positively, and Americans by 2-1 say they’d welcome an independent alternative for president.

However, as the pollster notes, support for an alternative to the Democrat-Republican status quo is broad but not particularly deep, and translating a favorable attitude toward a third party into actual action in the voting booth has been historically problematic:

For its part, interest in a nonparty alternative is broader than it is deep. While six in 10 Americans like the idea of an independent running for president, far fewer, 25 percent, endorse it strongly. And the reality is that partisanship retains a powerful pull; the best showing by a third-party candidate in recent times was Ross Perot’s 18.9 percent in 1992 – then, as now, a time of broad economic discontent.

This is true, of course, but at some point things will have to change or the United States as we’ve known it will cease to be.  The current "Republicrat" system is irreparably broken (see federal deficit super committee, for example) and it’s only a matter of time before a sufficient number of voters come to this realization and consigns the Washington Establishment of both parties to the dustbin of history.

There’s nothing in the constitution that enshrines crony capitalism as the key determent of public policy yet that’s precisely what the arrangement has become in present day Washington for both parties. The practice doesn’t change from election to election, just the beneficiaries. This is unsustainable.  Sooner or later (I’m guessing sooner) a candidate will emerge with a common sense, constitutionalist message — and the charisma to carry it through — and the party will end for the self-anointed permanent political class which bears total responsibility for the current, unhappy state of affairs with which we’re confronted.

The other aspect of the ABC-WaPo poll I found interesting had to do with the approval and disapproval of the two parties.  The poll notes that approval for the Democrat Party is near an all-time low.

The Democratic Party’s rating is its lowest in polls since November 1984, days before Ronald Reagan’s landslide re-election, when it hit 47 percent favorable.

This is not surprising given the disaster that is the Obama Presidency.  However, while Republican Party approval is not close to an all-time low, it’s still 8 points lower than Democrat Party approval.

The Republican Party is better off than its historic low in popularity (31 percent in 1998, upon the impeachment of Bill Clinton) but still 8 points below the Democrats.

This made no sense to me.  Given that polls consistently indicate that Americans who self-identify as conservatives outnumber Americans who self-identify as liberals by a roughly 2-1 margin (see Gallup’s most recent poll on this question here, for example), how can this be?  After digging into the polls internals, I believe I found at least part of the answer.  Conservatives have a significantly higher unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party than liberals do of the Democrat Party.  Indeed only 21% of liberals view Democrats unfavorably. However, the picture is substantially different for conservatives with regard to their opinion of the Republican Party.

The poll breaks up conservatives into two groups…perhaps because there are so many more conservatives than liberals.  Who knows.  Anyway, 38% of those who identify as "somewhat conservative" have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party while 30% of those who identify as "very conservative" have an unfavorable opinion of the GOP.  Thus, if you combine the two, roughly 1 in 3 conservatives disapprove of Republicans while only 1 in 5 liberals disapprove of the Democrat Party.  Combine these numbers with the fact that conservatives make up twice as much of the electorate as liberals (41% vs. 21%) and the 40% approval rating for Republicans in the ABC News-WaPo poll makes sense.

The question, then, is this: Why is there so little enthusiasm for the Republican Party by conservatives?  Jim Geraghty at the National Review believes it’s due to the fact that the Republican House has had few, if any, concrete accomplishments since taking control in January:

A strategist told me recently that of all demographic groups, Republicans are currently the least satisfied – because in their minds, they worked their tails off in 2010 to elect conservative Tea Party Republicans to Congress, and yet they see so little change in Washington as a result.

I’m sure there’s something to that, but I’d give conservatives more credit than that.  After all, how much can a Republican-controlled House accomplish when dealing with a Democrat-controlled Senate led by Harry Reid and a White House occupied by the most left-wing ideologue in the nation’s history.  The most they can do is stop Obama’s agenda, but actually reversing it is not in the cards given the present power structure in Washington.  To be sure, it would be helpful if the House would take a more aggressive stance against Obama’s recent attempts to pass legislation by executive and regulatory fiat but, again, they can’t do anything to, for example, repeal ObamaCare on their own.

I think a more significant amount of conservative antipathy toward the Republican Party can be explained by the Republican Party itself, which is fundamentally more interested in preserving the status quo than pursuing a conservative agenda. Indeed the Republican Establishment holds conservatism in general, and conservatives in particular, in contempt.  This has been well-documented in the past via too many posts to count at C4P.  I will, however, point to two recent developments to buttress my point.  About three weeks ago, Matt Bai published an enormous piece in the New York Times in which he quoted many Republican Establishment figures who had no problem going on the record to openly express contempt for conservatives.  The general sense one got from reading Bai’s piece was that Washington Republicans were outraged that conservatives would deign to take over "their party". Here’s just one example from Republican consultant John Feehery:

 “The thing I get a kick out of is these Tea Party folks calling me a RINO,” John Feehery, a lobbyist who was once a senior House aide, recently told me. “No, guys, I’ve been a Republican all along. You go off into your own little world and then come back and say it’s your party. This ain’t your party.”

Right.  Is this kind of do*chebaggery from Feehery, who is indeed a RINO, supposed to inspire conservatives to approve of and/or send money to his Republican Party?  I think not.  How about you?  Incidentally Feehery is the moron who called Governor Palin a "distraction" and a "soap opera", among other things, in 2009. I digress.  The second factor which explains lukewarm approval of Republicans by conservatives is the Republican Establishment’s inexplicable, nay suicidal, obsession with foisting Mitt Romney on conservatives as the Republican nominee.

Thanks to the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda, liberalism is in headlong decline and there hasn’t been a better time in the past 32 years to put an actual conservative on the ballot, and yet the Republican powers that be are doing all they can to give us Mandate Mitt, who’s no more a conservative than Arlen Specter (whom the Republican Establishment backed against Pat Toomey in 2004).  Most of the conservatives I talk to react to the prospect of a Romney nomination with a mixture of disgust and horror, and virtually none will vote for him.

Conservatives are smart people.  They can see with their own eyes the contempt the Republican Establishment has for them.  The inevitable result is that an increasing number of them are eschewing the Republican label in favor of the Conservative label. If a third party ever does successfully take root, I suspect these people will form its vanguard, and John Feehery may well get his wish.  He and they can have their precious party. I sure as hell don’t want to be a part of it.


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  • mike

    Sweet!!   Here’s your opening Sarah!!

  • Norcalo

    Each party sucks. 

    Together they suck the big weenie in hell.

    Pardon my French.

    • ConservativeMike

      As much as I totally agree with you, you have inulted the French Language.  : )

  • Dan C

    It is a sad situation we find ourselves in. The Republican party in its current state has no chance to turn the country around, and obviously the Democrats have no chance either and won’t even try lol.

    I am all for a "revitalized Republican party" but right now that seems pretty much impossible. I don’t trust the leadership or the rank and file anymore. 

    • virginiagentleman1

      True words, my friend!  The GOP has gone the way of the dinosaur, extinct! It’s really just a matter of when to hold the funeral. Something new, something dynamic is in the works!

  • aaron66krohn

    Two points:

    1. Ross Perot was LEADING both Bush and Clinton as late as June 1992!!!
    Then he STUPIDLY dropped out….and killed his chances!!!!

    2. There is NO ONE like Sarah Palin….nor anyone NEARLY as popular!!!!!!!  (3,000,000 books sold………record crowds………best ratings on TV………3,250,000 FB fans!)  All bets would be OFF if she entered the race!!!!!  She’d WHOMP all opposition!!!!  NO comparison to previous third party or independent runs!!!!!  NONE!!!

    • Norcalo

      All true if she runs.

    • Jack Franklin

      I agree, Aaron.  Perot had far fewer friends on Facebook.  Oh wait, it didn’t even exist back then.  Many things are different.  Maybe a miracle is in the works?  The election is still a year away.  Lots of things could happen between now and then.

    • PhilipJames

      Also, he picked that older fellow, the hero general, who did not have any political experience and could not stand up to the liberal media and spin masters. So, in addition to dropping out and then coming back, he had the label of someone who could not pick a good VP… even though the older fellow apparently was a war hero and really great guy. Just could not bullsh*t well enough in front of the camera and did poorly in a debate.

  • gwspfan

    How history repeats itself. The Republican Party may soon find themselves going the way of the Whigs back in the 1850’s. If things do not work out this election I am more than ready for an alternative! Hell, I am ready right now if it would be feasible. Watch out Feehery, you may just get what you wish for.

  • mike

    Here’s an interesting find…you can link to her tweet

    @drginaloudon Gina Gentry Loudon

    I have it on good word that Sarah Palin
    is reconsidering…

    • helensimon

      I heard it on another Sarah site, and went to follow Loudon on twitter & have been seeing many delightful squeals over there…that’s why I’m here, to squeal here! WOOOOTTTT!!!!

    • imo123

      There it is 3 hours ago.!/@drginaloudon

      • Guest


    • Richard Frei

      Please let it be on Saturday so we can all start reciting this ditty:

      Remember, remember the Fifth of November
      The day of Sarah’s reconsidered shock.
      I know of no reason of why she reconsidered
      Will soon be forgot.

      Guy Fawkes’ Day would be the perfect day for her to "blow up" the flawed campaign process.

  • Ted Belman

    I just read an article about how Rove and the GOP establishment is hammering Cain.  This activity by the GOP is very undemocratic.  It refuses to let the people decide on a candidate. Its just like countries li8ke Russia and Iran who hand pick who can run.  Its not right and its not good for America.

    • 01_Explorer_01

      But its been that way for years but this time we are on to them.

  • blackbird

    Excellent post Doug, thank you. Sarah Palin has ripped the mask of phoney empathy off their faces and their have been some surprises along the way.

  • Ted Belman

    With the present candidates is it not likely that the first ballot at the convention will not result in a winner.  Also correct me if I am wrong that all delegates can then vote for who they want.  Or is this only after guy is low man.  Is it possible for Sarah to become a candidate at the convention and start picking up these loose votes.

    • excopconservative

      Each state may have different rules as to how long delegates are bound to vote for the candidate they are pledged to.  Some it may be one ballot, others longer.

    • Guest

      It is very possible for Sarah Palin to get the republican nomination without running in any state or running as an independent.  She would have to make her case before the convention and the delegates that she is the only one that can beat 0bama. 

  • Patriot41

    Doug, a well written piece although I cannot agree with some of your analysis.  For one thing, I cannot agree with the fact that over 40% of the voting public are conservative.  That may have been a fact thirty years ago, but no longer.  Ever hear of P.C.?  Now days, people say what they think one wants to hear.

    Unfortunately, while there are many citizens in this country that favor a conservative bent, the pollsters get a bit confused in the responses as they do not identify the differences between fiscal and social conservatives.  Each person has a different view of what conservatism means.  If the pollsters questions are not concise or are deliberately misleading, then you are not going to get an accurate consensus.  It is for that very reason that I do not put much stock in national polls.

    There has long been a political feeling in this country, that there is a need for a third party because of the corruption in our two party system.  It has only recently come to a head with the radical leadership pushing legislation against the will of the people in this current administration.  Such a feeling was exhibited in the elections of 2010, via the Tea Party movement.

    Your point that the conservatives were unable to make any headway in Congress because of the existing establishment, is well taken and on the money.  However, the Tea Party movement is not finished trying to weed out the old guard moderates and taking control.  It is not yet time for a third party movement, until that effort has either won or failed after the 2012 elections.  If the conservatives are able to hold the house and take over the Senate as well, that would negate the need for a third party movement.

    Also unfortunately, I cannot agree with your claim that conservatives are any more intelligent then their opposition, as they have been outfoxed more times then not, when dealing with their political opposition.  If there is an area of weakness in the conservative mentality when it comes to politics, it is that they assume everyone else is conservative in thought.  Not the case, as true conservatives only make up about 33% percent of the voting public.  They cannot win with those odds, at least not very often.  Their opposition understands this and that is why they pick candidates that appeal to the overall general voting public.  Conservatives never do this willingly, always destroying possible winning candidates, by picking apart their conservative virtues.  What they never seem to understand or consider, is the fact that their candidate must appeal to the majority of voters or they are not going to win!

    In no way am I suggesting that they pick and support someone like Romney who does not even know himself, what his political ideology is.  What I am suggesting, is that conservatives settle on the candidate with the most conservative ideas and with the ability to properly lead the nation and get behind that candidate.  That is a winning strategy!

  • Norcalo

    It was a Republican, Gramm, who led the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

    How conservative or wise was that?

    What conservative party?

    There isn’t one.

  • Republican2679

    Um…if only Republicans would actually follow the party platform, the GOP wouldn’t be unpopular. It’s that simple.

    • exodus2011

      yes, except it is the CCC of the PPC that controls ALL else

      so even if they were better at adhering to the 3 planks, the CCC aspect would continue to hold sway

      and so the GOP would continue to be mistrusted

  • JamesColumbiaMo

    I know Palin said she won’t run 3rd party, but I am a long time GOP voter who would bolt to her in an instant if she did.  She is much stronger than Perot on the issues, and I disagree with those who claim that a 3rd party candidate has no chance.  People are just more scared that Obama would win if that happened.  I am more scared that we vote in a big govt GOP moderate who doesn’t reverse course. 

    • Bill Carpenter Sr.

      " I am a long time GOP voter who would bolt to her in an instant if she did. "
      Well said, I agree 100%    I wonder how many here agree?

      • 808forpalin

        I don’t think there are many here who would not bolt from the GOP in a heartbeat and work their fingers to the bone for her if she mounted a TP or independent run.  I think, paradoxically, that she could restore the GOP with an indy run.

        • USMAgrandma

          Having been an active Rebublican for more years that I care to remember, I take issue with it being restored.  The "powers that run that organization" are too deeply entrenched and have been for years.  They play for blood, money and power.  They are smart and cunning and would cut your throat (not literally) as soon as tell you hello.  If you watch television you see some of them every night spinning one lie after another.  The "talking points" vary only slightly.  I’m not talking here about your friendly Precinct Chairman, I’m talking about the "Old Guard" that directs which way the Party will go, and they’ve been doing it for many years.  They almost got Reagan, but he outsmarted them, however, he had to take G.H.W. Bush as VP as a compromise.  Reagan never wanted Bush.  To take back the Republican Party would be like undoing a "granny knot" blind-folded with your teeth.  The Conservatives haven’t had a Presidential victory since Reagan.  G.W. was not a convservative. 

          A "We the People Party" would be a risk, I grant you, but at least you’d start fresh with God fearing people.  I would put my money there rather than trying to get rid of the old "moss backs" in the Republican heirarcy. That would be a task for Seal Team 6.(-:

          • 808forpalin

            When will the best and brightest realize she’s the only thing standing between them and the pitchforks.  I think it’s inevitable that they will, and the rats scurrying from the Good Ship Rove will be a pathetic sight to behold.  (Bless their hearts.)

          • Clifford J Cromer

            I’ve been a registered republican because of FDR, but secretly jumped the fence for The Buck Stops Here Harry.. Ready to burn my card. Hello, Governor Palin, come on out and hang out your sign, "Open For Business".

      • Norcalo

        Well technically I can’t agree because I’ve never been GOP.  But bolt I shall.

      • Clifford J Cromer

        Count me and my household in.

    • barracuda43

      I am in!Lets go Sarah.

  • jerseymark

    This is just soooo significant. Consider this – while 2/3 look upon a third party option as favorable, the support is shallow but that is simply because they don’t see it happening for real. They are not going to break away from their Party mindset without what looks like a real alternative. In my lengthy presentation of the We the People party analysis of a couple weeks ago I pointed to the existing polls which said the same as this one with 2/3 being favorable. The time has never been more ripe for such a move by the conservatives of all stripes. Like I said before – with Sarah at the helm and recognizing this as an insurrection action, the strategy to pursue is to make it clear to everyone that the only way Obama is defeated is through a vote for Sarah and the We the People Party. People will gripe about a third party splitting the vote and guaranteeing Obama’s re-election but our response has to be – yeah, that will happen unless you vote for Sarah  as conservatives WILL NOT vote for Romney as demonstrated by our own Party. Put a gun to their head and they will vote for Sarah.


    • Clifford J Cromer

      Thanks, Mark for posting this again. Maybe you can persuade Governor to  go independent.

  • Christopher H Fromme

    The NRSC was supporting Defecter Specter PA until the day he became a Demorat.  Jim DeMint knew better and the Senate Conservative Fund backed Toomey for 2010 and with the Tea Party/912 groups he won,l

  • arcman46

    I have always been a "reluctant" Republican.  The problem is always the need to vote against someone that would be far worse than the one that you lukewarmly support.  Bush was better than Gore; and Kerry; and McCain was better than Obama.  Now we can take our pick RomneyPerryBachmannCainPaulGingrichJohnsonSantorium.  Any one would probably be better than Obama, but I don’t think any of them would be able to begin to steer the ship in a different path away from the reefs.  As long as we stay on the course we’re on the USS America, will have no better of a fate than the Titantic.  I have always been afraid to vote 3rd Party simply because it would split the vote and allow the other guy to win, but in Palin’s case, I say "bring it on".  She is one of the few that could actually pull it off.

  • Hyman Roth


    • Norcalo

      I can’t. They are corrupt. 

    • suehimel

      I will NOT support a Republican establishment candidate.  I am sending money to Herman Cain.  His 9-9-9 may not make it, but his approach to problem solving can’t be beat. 

      • Hyman Roth

        Sorry Sue but I can’t get behind him.  Too many problems there for me.

        There basically IS NOBODY right now who I want to support!

  • mike

    Palin has over 3 million followers on Facebook. If each of them gave her $100. she’d have 300 million overnight. Imagine how much she’ll have when everyone outside of facebook donates.

    • lanahi

      That’s not realistic to expect that. 

  • SteveBayrd

    I watch little of turncoat FoxNews anymore. But today on Cavuto VA gov McDonald, who most of us praise for his stands on O-care and energy, gave huge cover for Mitt Romney. Even iconic Jim DeMint has done this before! . The Republican Party is shot through and through with a virus that is fatal. Even those the Tea Party supports like McDonald have it, because they have wallowed in the Northeast establishment’s trough all their lives. Remember, most of these people are lawyers. They have spent their lives twisting words to ensure desired, selfish outcomes. Doug is correct. If America is to be saved, an independent will someday need to do it. But I am pessimistic. Our schools have been run by stealth Marxists for decades. The courts have aided in the collapse. Restoration will take a charismatic, principled leader along the lines of a Reagan with a titanium spine. Without THAT, no restoration can reverse the damage done.

    • SteveBayrd

      I hate it when I misspell!! It’s McDonnell, not McDonald! Sheesh!

  • nkthgreek

    As usual Sarah is right. We don’t need a third party. We need a revitalized Republican Party. And whether she runs or not, she is the major revitalizer. 

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