Politics

Third-Party Candidates Receiving Only Minimal Support

by Frank Newport

Nader is tops with 2% of the vote

PRINCETON, NJ -- 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.

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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. Gallup's usual presidential ballot in which third-party candidates are not read, but in which respondents are given the choice of naming any candidate they choose, finds about 1% who mention candidates other than McCain and Obama.

Gallup also monitors interest in third-party candidates by asking an open-ended question in which no candidate names are read for respondents. In an Aug. 7-10 poll, the results showed that only 1% volunteered the name of Nader and 1% Barr, with no other candidates getting enough supporters to round to 1%. Again, Obama and McCain received almost all mentions of candidates in this open-ended format.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 926 registered voters, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 3-5, 2008. For results based on the total sample of voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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