Running under the Tea Party brand may be better in congressional races than being a Republican.
In a three-way Generic Ballot test, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds Democrats attracting 36% of the vote. The Tea Party candidate picks up 23%, and Republicans finish third at 18%. Another 22% are undecided.
Among voters not affiliated with either major party, the Tea Party comes out on top. Thirty-three percent (33%) prefer the Tea Party candidate, and 30% are undecided. Twenty-five percent (25%) would vote for a Democrat, and just 12% prefer the GOP.
Among Republican voters, 39% say they’d vote for the GOP candidate, but 33% favor the Tea Party option.
For this survey, the respondents were asked to assume that the Tea Party movement organized as a new political party. In practical terms, it is unlikely that a true third-party option would perform as well as the polling data indicates. The rules of the election process—written by Republicans and Democrats--provide substantial advantages for the two established major parties. The more conventional route in the United States is for a potential third-party force to overtake one of the existing parties.
From The Jacksonian Party : The Third Party Outlines
In either of these, a successful inclusion of disaffected Republican and Democratic individuals would yield a Republican Party below its current standings (now 32-33% dropping to 26-27%) and a Democratic Party changed either slightly or greatly depending on disaffection levels (now 35% approx. dropping to 32% to 23%)
Thus in a Robust Scenario of 50% disaffected the new political atmosphere would be:
3rd Party - 34-44%
Democratic Party - 23-32%
Republican Party - 26-27%
On the Lean Scenario of 10% disaffected for a new political party, the atmosphere would be:
Democratic Party - 23-32%
Republican Party - 26-27%
3rd Party - 14-24%
That last is telling as it is almost EXACTLY what Ross Perot did: peel off parts from the existing two parties and have almost NO outreach to the politically disaffected. His Reform Party didn't last because of party brand loyalty and lack of vigor inside the party, due to it having a hierarchical structure with Ross Perotism as its nebulous basis.
Both of these scenarios place 'independents' in their role of following overall voting proportions, as is currently the case. Independents don't vote as a group, currently, and more closely follow overall party affiliation on a proportional basis, so that would continue to be the case with a 3rd Party. Independents would be attracted just as equally in that direction as the overall percentage of the population is. No one can craft an 'independent' based platform without trying to address the already existing 'leanings' of independents.
In my previous analysis the idea is to move to those who don't vote as the beginning of a new party. If you are to have a party you must bring in voters from that non-voting plurality (nearly 49%) and get them to vote not only during Presidential election years, but the Congressional elections every two years. Depending on the percentage of people that can be brought in the voting dynamics change. The two scenarios I gave are the Robust one (getting 50% of non-voters to vote) and the Lean one (only 10% of non-voters come in to vote). Also noted is that 'Independents' tend to break out along party lines as there are only two parties, and that when a third party is introduced 'Independents' will then break in a tripartite fashion. What comes out of this is that when non-voters or 'Independents' move to a new standard, they have the effect of changing the 'Independent' voting ratio. Thus two factors are at play when Tea Parties are considered:
First - Changing the voting proportion. With the current set-up the voter pool is roughly three parts of equal size: Democrats, Republicans and Independents. That means a minor change between the two parties changes the Independent's affiliation, so that a mere 35 to 34 margin of D:R can lead to the 51:49 era or the 'Red/Blue' divide of States along party lines. When affiliation with three parties is considered (D:R:T) and you go to 35:34:20 you are at 89% of voting leaving just 11% to be split so you get 39:38:23, which would mean that 'Red/Blue' America vanishes. With a third choice and Independents falling out proportionately, an era of 'bi-partisanship' ends: a third party that kept to a small government platform and did NOT compromise, while a minority, would demonstrate that the other two parties were either in collusion (i.e. 'bi-partisanship' against the third party) or unwilling to compromise THEIR power structure so as to reduce government (via the number of agencies, regulations, personnel, legal coverage, etc.). A small, hard-line party that is able to garner 20% of the vote becomes a palpable threat to the 'two party system'. At just above Ross Perot's best showing, 15%, a distributed third party WITHOUT a party structure but WITH shared goals and ideals has an impact on the two party system even if they never form an actual party but can whittle away at districts that tend to get progressive representatives when the district is not progressive. The lesson of NY-23 is clear: you can go from nowhere to 45% of the vote in one month by doing this and forcing the two parties to show their actual affiliation against the plurality principles of the district. The trendline had been set and the deadline beat it.
Second - Changing the voting pool size. This also changes proportion but in a subtler way: by bringing in those who have been disenchanted with their franchise as they can't get people who represent them. An influx of the disenchanted by any degree changes the proportions along the Robust/Lean options I presented earlier. House districts that are 'safe' with a 53:46 margin see that leading trend drop with even a 15% influx to 46:40:14. When you go from a straight percent to having to renormalize to a higher amount, in this case moving from 100 to 115, the previous percentages shift to accommodate the new normal. In this case there needs to be NO adjustment to the prior incumbent parties, just new people walking in forming a third party and contesting the previous staid elections. By increasing the pool of voters and having them committed to a third party or alternative voting arrangement, what had once been 'safe' seats become, at an instant, plurality seats only. Mentally this is so because a majority win (53:46) seems much more robust than the plurality case (46:40). Yet that very change is a POSITIVE feedback to the third party members in that THEY did this, they entered into the fray and changed the cozy arrangement that had been set up between the two parties for 'safe' districts. While 46% is still a 'win' it is not a 'safe' win and indicates weakness in the two larger pluralities that can be exploited by a lean and hungry third party. By entering the system you change its behavior, a well known fact of quantum mechanics but also true of any other system that has a new independent variable added. This is one of the most powerful of messages that can be sent to a voter: you do have an impact on things.
After Rasmussen Reports examines the break-outs of how existing party members view Tea Parties, there is a striking paragraph that bears examination:
Forty-one percent (41%) of all voters nationwide say Republicans and Democrats are so much alike that a new party is needed to represent the American people. Republicans are evenly divided on this question, while Democrats overwhelmingly disagree. However, among those not affiliated with either major party, 60% agree that a new party is needed, and only 25% disagree. Men are far more likely than women to believe a new party is needed.
That 60% Independents is an astounding figure as it would have to encompass all of those who split for the current two parties in elections, and yet when given this question on the need for a new party, 2/3 of Independents agree with the proposition. If broken down into equal thirds for the voting population between D:R:I (and they are not but it is a rough approximation), then 60% of 1/3 is nearly 20% of the entire voting population that favors a third party. The remaining 21% must come from the other 2/3 and as the D is indicated as substantially lower a proposed breakout of 5:16:20 then looks proportionately right. This is via first route analysis of changing proportions within a set sized voting population, which is not the case in America as it has been a declining turnout by proportion, even with adding on 8 million citizens of voting age every 4 years.
Continuing on first route analysis, the 5% that derives from the Democratic party, which is given an equal third, becomes 15-16% of the entire party voting base. This falls a bit above my projected faction of 'Blue Dogs' and PUMAs, but not unreasonably so given ANY moderate disaffection within the Democratic Party. These were the hard to convince Democrats during the Presidential election that either held their noses and voted or did not vote. This segment is populated by Fiscally Conservative 'Blue Dogs' (Midwestern States south of the Great Lakes) and the followers of Hillary Clinton who had a strong showing throughout the old party base zones in Appalachia, and even such places as Texas. This level of dissatisfaction points to problems in the Democratic Party that can properly be characterized as Big City vs Small Town and Rural. This represents the Old Jacksonians who are still staying with the party up to 2008, and are the final stalwarts of that traditional power base for the Democratic Party. I agree with Walter Russell Mead's analysis that the majority of Jacksonians (the New Jacksonians or Crab Grass Jacksonians) have generally drifted from the Democratic Party between the mid-1960's to present. This old line of government not endangering the common working man, leaving him be and not interfering with his life may be the last of their kind and they have stayed by their beliefs even as all the 'good' programs by the Democratic Party (Federal Reserve, SSN, Medicare, FHA, Fannie, Freddie, CRA, etc.) have turned out to put the picnic far too close to the outhouse so that now the picnic gets ants and flies. A move to support a third party would be an attempt to fumigate the outhouse and move the picnic a good, far way away from it while the toxins die down. When the corruption of our government services puts the common working man at risk from political cronies, the time to do something may well be coming, leaving the Progressives and others Social Liberals to have the party which will no longer be able to claim any conservative basis.
For the Republican party that 16% they contribute is worrying as it is nearly 48-49% of the entire party which jibes with the 70% favorability for Tea Parties seen intra-party. My previous analysis of the Republican Party examined its main breakouts via internals and that amount of favorability is also shocking when you consider that the 70% of the party members are favorable to a Tea Party and 48-49% would support the formation of a third party, that is over 70% of the disaffected willing to support a Third Party formation. Within the factions inside the Republican Party one would suspect the LEAST favorable are the MilCons/NeoCons as a third party would disrupt the Nation's ability to get a consensus via majority on the stance of the Nation for self-defense. With that said, if there is Jacksonian support for a Tea Party system arrangement (formal or informal) then that flips as Jacksonians are anything BUT anti-military or anti-defense. Yet even with that this would not be a huge draw for MilCons. FiCons or Fiscal Conservatives make up a large section of the party and, thusly, are the most dissatisfied with the free-spending going on by Republicans during the 1990's and up to 2004. The overwhelming bulk of support is probably from this section within the Republican Party as they have had the most promises to them since 1980 and the least amount delivered. Being fiscally conservative does NOT mean running progressive budgets with huge outlays, but actually cutting spending and the size of the government for that to happen. Third in the mix are the SoCons or Social Conservatives. Within SoCons there is a strong break between the Religious and the Traditionalists, and that is the break between Social Progressivism residing with the Religious SoCons and the older system of Traditional government hewing to the Founders and their emplacement of a Westphalian system. Here a break between the SoCons would seem to be the breaking point of the party: is this a Religiously Conservative party willing to put forward government in a nurturing role or a Traditionally Conservative Westphalian party that understands the deep reasons we recognize the ability of individuals to do good without the interference of government?
That is a stark view of what the existing two parties could look like if a third party or Tea Party stands up, formally or informally. As this is the Lean Scenario, it leaves a huge aftermath behind it, even with being just that.
The Democratic Party, cut off from any conservative base (social or fiscal) becomes isolated and more progressive, liberal and trenchant trying to hang on to old popularity but seeing its voting base become almost entirely urban. That is the party of Big City Machines and Machine Politics writ large: it is a party that makes the current level of corruption and political pay-offs seem minor in comparison. Because of that the party becomes more insular, less able to handle outside concepts and less competitive outside of those urban enclaves. The party that started with the Gentleman Farmer and Rural Jeffersonian will have transformed itself completely into Big City Machines unable to support the ventures of the common man or farmer for anything. Yet for all of that it can STILL garner between 23-32% of the vote Nation-wide, although its support in rural and even some suburban areas will fall to barely discernable.
The Republican Party becomes a Religiously Conservative but Governmentally Progressive party with many MilCons left due to the National nature of the party. Fiscal Conservatives would only be a voice where Traditionalists and FiCons can work together to support the proposition that the most religiously accommodating government is one that has NO SAY in religion and does not dictate morals to the country. Even governing from the old idea of fiscal conservatism, that of managing the growth of government, would wither inside the party. Still that base of Christian Conservatives, MilCons/NeoCons and FiCon remainder places the party at a firm 26-27% core that will only see decline if the morality of the party suffers ANY. If members feel they have to leave due to current marital or sexual problems, that becomes the 'litmus test' for candidates so that the party can retain its hold on the electorate. This will get some rural and suburban backing, but shows an overall retreat of the party from Urban settings save for social works. Government would be an expansive affair looking towards some common defense but be willing to replace the Church and individual good works with the power of the State. The party of Free Soil becomes the party of Societal Statism dictating to the people from the State.
A formal or informal Tea Party is a different beast, although it hews to the old 'No Taxation Without Representation', small government, fiscal conservatism and both New and Old Jacksonians. This is a party of liberty, freedom from government, defending the Nation, and allowing the individual the greatest free play of rights possible while ensuring that government does not destroy the economy. It is a party of trenchant anti-Statism backed up by the personal liberty to say 'NO'. At 14-24% it does NOT have to present great new things for government to do, in fact it need only keep on saying that the government does far too much, costs too much, creates too many divisions in society, taxes the hell out of us, and can't even chase down a bunch of overseas terrorists with the greatest military machine on the planet. This is not a party of 2-year olds, but a measured and reasoned response to the excesses of the 20th century and the unwillingness to continue them. Because it has Traditionalists and 'Blue Dogs' affiliated with it, there is a much stronger showing in the margins of Cities than Republicans have. It is a party that contests against the Republicans in Small Towns and rural settings, and against the Democrats in the Suburbs. Core concepts of less government, lower taxation, more liberty for the common man and railing against the stench of crony politics in both parties means this is not a 'reform' party to either of the two existing parties and is, indeed, a response to them. It is a party where 'affirmative action' is budget cuts and repealing of government power so that individuals can act affirmatively without running afoul of overgrown regulations and taxation. It is a party of devout Federalism and returning usurped power at the Federal level back to the States and local governments and getting the National government the hell out of the way. There is no social program that is so good it can't be cut, no support for big business that can't be sheared and no support for the poor that is not better done locally via giving full tax breaks for charitable donations and letting the people decide how best to tend the poor, sick and elderly. It is not the party of 'No' although it would end up saying that a lot. It is a party of sound fundamentals that run contrary to Statism at all levels, just as its followers support it at all levels to do that.
And if a third party can bring IN any of the current disaffected, their power is magnified by doing so. The existing two parties have had four decades to stem that tide and have not succeeded. Getting the current voting disaffected is not enough: any third party must reach out to the self-disenfranchised and give them a positive reason TO vote. Republicans and Democrats have failed miserably at that, and any third party that can get any success will crack the two party system wide open. Unlike Ross Perot and John Anderson the current social movement of Tea Parties is not fixated on a star figure, but on getting things done. That is so vexing to the current media and political elites that they cannot deal with that fact. The political elites, as seen in Rasmussen Reports, are in denial as their salad days would come to a harsh end if there is a third party:
Among the Political Class, not a single respondent picked the Tea Party candidate.
It is they who lose if there is a third party as it is a repudiation of their elite status.
It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people.