The 2016 election included the strongest third-party campaign since Ross Perot in 1992 and it looks like the two major parties have not gotten any more popular in the intervening three years. A new poll shows that just under 40 percent of likely voters are considering a third-party vote in 2020.
A new poll from Rasmussen shows that 38 percent of voters are likely to vote for someone other than Donald Trump or the Democratic nominee next year. That number includes 22 percent who said they were very likely to eschew the two candidates from the big parties.
At this point, it is impossible to say which of the main party candidates would benefit more from a strong third-party candidacy, but the Libertarians are the third-party best positioned to take advantage of the widespread voter dissatisfaction. If the Libertarian Party can overcome its self-destructive tendencies and convince the experienced and charismatic former Republican, Justin Amash, to be their standard-bearer, the Libertarians could be a force to be reckoned with next year.
At any rate, the poll is a warning sign for both parties that nearly half of voters are losing patience and are unhappy with both parties. The party that presents the more reasonable and moderate candidate will likely carry the election.
On that score, Democrats seem to have the advantage. They still have time to avoid nominating an extremist while Republicans seem likely to be saddled with a damaged Donald Trump. The affable Joe Biden still seems to have the edge among the Democrat hopefuls.
Both the Republicans and the Democrats should heed the warning from Rasmussen and start trying to appeal to a broader spectrum of voters than just their base. If they spend enough time alienating constituents, voters may eventually realize that it is not a binary choice after all.