Monmouth Poll: Difficult Path for 2024 Third-Party Bid

Biden and Trump

In a contest between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, more voters say they won’t vote for either candidate than say they will. This does not mean, however, that the American electorate is on board with a third-party presidential ticket in 2024. The Monmouth University Poll finds support for an alternative drops when the premise moves from a generic bipartisan ticket to one where actual candidates are named. The presence of a third party in the race would siphon votes from both major party nominees, but it is not apparent it would play the role of a spoiler, at least in a hypothetical situation.

In a Biden-Trump rematch, just under half of registered voters say they will either definitely (36%) or probably (11%) vote for the Democratic incumbent and 4 in 10 will definitely (26%) or probably (14%) support the Republican. Majorities, though, say they will not vote for either Biden (46% definitely not and 6% probably not) or Trump (50% definitely not and 8% probably not). These results are statistically similar to poll results from two months ago.

Electoral support for both candidates runs a few points higher than their underlying favorability ratings. Specifically, 47% of American voters are likely to vote for Biden while 43% have a favorable opinion of him, and 40% are likely to vote for Trump while 36% have a favorable opinion of him.

“In a replay of the 2020 election, some voters clearly feel they have to back a candidate they don’t really like. That suggests there may be an opening for a third party in 2024, but when you drill down further, there doesn’t seem to be enough defectors to make that a viable option,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

At this point, 3 in 10 Americans say they would entertain voting for a third-party “fusion” ticket comprised of a Democrat and a Republican. Just 5% say they would definitely vote for this option if Biden and Trump are the major party nominees and another 25% say they would probably vote third party. At the other end of the spectrum, 31% say they definitely would not support a fusion ticket and 34% probably would not.

Support for a third-party ticket drops even lower when names of possible candidates are introduced into the equation. The No Labels group has been pursuing ballot access and unveiled a policy statement this week at an event headlined by Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Republican former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. Monmouth tested Manchin and Huntsman as an alternative ticket in a Biden-Trump race and found that only 2% of voters would definitely vote for this specific third-party option and just 14% would probably vote for them. Moreover, 44% definitely would not vote for a Manchin-Huntsman ticket and 31% probably would not. It does not appear to matter whether Manchin or Huntsman tops the ticket. Versions of this question that flipped the two names in the presidential and vice presidential slots got nearly identical support levels.

            “We are still very much in the realm of hypotheticals, where voters’ assessment of their actual behavior can be unreliable. However, the more concrete you make an alternative to the major party candidates, the less attractive it becomes. A third-party nominee needs to capture voters’ imagination to be successful. It is not clear that such a charismatic figure exists right now,” said Murray.

            The potential effect of a so-called fusion ticket on the election’s outcome is difficult to gauge until candidates are chosen. On the surface it seems like Republican voters are more inclined to vote for such a ticket (25% for a generic ticket and 15% for Manchin/Huntsman specifically) than Democrats are (18% for a generic ticket and 8% for Manchin/Huntsman). However, when the individual poll questions about potential support for Biden, Trump and a third-party ticket are combined, the overall effect appears to be a wash. When a generic bipartisan ticket is offered as an alternative, Biden’s support drops from 47% to 37% and Trump’s support falls from 40% to 28%. With a Manchin/Huntsman ticket as the alternative, Biden’s support drops from 47% to 40% and Trump’s support falls from 40% to 34%. Interestingly, among the 13% of voters who say they will vote for neither Trump nor Biden, most say they will vote for a generic third-party ticket (9% move from neither to the third party), but that support largely disappears when the ticket is specifically named as Manchin and Huntsman (only 4% move from neither to the third party).

            The poll also asked hypothetical questions about what voters would do if they thought a third-party ticket could be a spoiler. In the case where voting for a third party could lead to the election of Biden, 39% say they would vote for Biden, 37% would vote for Trump, and 20% would vote for the third-party ticket. In the case where voting for a third party could lead to the election of Trump, 43% would vote for Biden, 33% would vote for Trump, and 20% would vote for the third-party ticket.

            “The expectation that a third-party run could tip the scales toward Biden might produce a tighter contest than when the spoiler effect is seen to help Trump. Again, these are hypotheticals. It’s impossible to predict the impact of a third-party challenge until an actual campaign is underway, when the media’s framing of it will play an important role,” said Murray.

            One argument put forward on the viability of a third-party ticket is the fact that majorities of the American electorate have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican (56%) and Democratic (55%) parties. However, only 17% hold a negative view of both parties simultaneously – and half of that number actually identify a party they dislike more than the other.  In total, 43% prefer the Democratic Party, including 39% have a favorable opinion of it coupled with an unfavorable opinion of the Republicans along with 4% who have an unfavorable view of both parties but dislike the GOP more. Likewise, 42% prefer the Republican Party, including 37% with a favorable opinion of just that party and 5% who have an unfavorable view of both parties but dislike the Democrats more.  Another 8% dislike both parties equally while 6% have a favorable opinion of both parties.

            “What voters say they want in an ideal world and how they actually act in a distrustful hyper-partisan environment are two very different things. When partisanship, particularly a negative view of the opposite party, drives voters’ decision-making, any third-party effort starts with a low ceiling for support,” said Murray.

            An important caveat in these poll findings on a potential spoiler effect is that we are not looking at likely voters. However, it is worth noting that younger voters – i.e., those who are less likely to turn out – are more likely to entertain voting for a third party than older, more reliable, voters. Also, the poll suggests there is stronger support for Biden than Trump currently, but that could change in the fall if both men become their respective party’s nominees. The impact of a third-party ticket as a spoiler could be more significant in a tight race, especially in states crucial to the Electoral College count.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from July 12 to 17, 2023 with 910 adults in the United States. The question results in this release are based on 840 registered voters and have a margin of error +/- 4.9 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

[Q1-10 previously released.]

[QUESTIONS 11 & 12 WERE ROTATED]

 

11.    Is your general impression of the Republican Party very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable?

REGISTERED VOTERS

July2023

Very favorable

9%

Somewhat favorable

34%

Somewhat unfavorable

17%

Very unfavorable

39%

(VOL) No opinion

1%

(n)

(840)

 

12.    Is your general impression of the Democratic Party very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable?

REGISTERED VOTERS

July2023

Very favorable

16%

Somewhat favorable

29%

Somewhat unfavorable

17%

Very unfavorable

38%

(VOL) No opinion

0%

(n)

(840)

[The following question was asked of people who have an unfavorable impression of BOTH parties.] 

13.    When you think about it, do you dislike one of these parties more than the other, or do you really dislike both parties equally? [If DISLIKE ONE PARTY MORE: Which party do you dislike more – the Republicans or the Democrats?] [CHOICES WERE ROTATED]

TABLE PRESENTS THE RESULTS COMBINED WITH PARTY FAVORABLES from Q11-12.

REGISTERED VOTERS

July2023

Favorable both parties

6%

Favorable Republican Party only

37%

Favorable Democratic Party only

39%

Unfavorable both, dislike Rep. more

4%

Unfavorable both, dislike Dem. more

5%

Unfavorable both, dislike equally

8%

(n)

(840)

[QUESTIONS 14 & 15 WERE ROTATED]

 

14.    Is your general impression of Donald Trump very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable?

  TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

July2023

Aug.2022

Nov.2020

LateSept.2020

EarlySept.2020

Aug.2020

LateJune2020

EarlyJune2020

May2020

April2020

March2020

Feb.2020

Jan.2020

Dec.

2019

Nov.2019

Sept.2019

Very favorable

15%

22%

25%

27%

26%

23%

22%

26%

24%

24%

29%

35%

35%

33%

34%

30%

Somewhat favorable

21%

20%

16%

15%

14%

17%

16%

12%

16%

18%

17%

9%

8%

13%

10%

13%

Somewhat unfavorable

13%

9%

7%

7%

7%

8%

9%

9%

9%

7%

7%

6%

4%

5%

4%

6%

Very unfavorable

50%

40%

42%

44%

46%

46%

46%

48%

44%

43%

42%

47%

51%

47%

50%

50%

(VOL) No opinion *

1%

9%

10%

7%

6%

7%

7%

5%

7%

7%

5%

3%

2%

2%

2%

3%

(n)

(840)

(751)

(749)

(809)

(758)

(785)

(733)

(742)

(739)

(743)

(754)

(827)

(847)

(838)

(835)

(1,017)

         *Prior polls included an explicit “no opinion” option in the question.

 

15.    Is your general impression of Joe Biden very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable?

  TREND:

REGISTERED VOTERS

July2023

Nov.2020

LateSept.2020

EarlySept.2020

Aug.2020

LateJune2020

EarlyJune2020

May2020

April2020

March2020

Feb.2020

Jan.2020

Dec.

2019

Nov.2019

Sept.2019

Very favorable

18%

22%

25%

26%

17%

16%

15%

15%

15%

18%

16%

19%

18%

18%

20%

Somewhat favorable

25%

22%

22%

21%

25%

28%

27%

26%

26%

25%

24%

23%

25%

25%

26%

Somewhat unfavorable

13%

15%

10%

9%

14%

13%

18%

16%

17%

17%

17%

16%

16%

17%

18%

Very unfavorable

44%

31%

36%

35%

33%

31%

31%

28%

25%

26%

36%

33%

34%

33%

27%

(VOL) No opinion *

0%

11%

7%

9%

12%

12%

9%

16%

17%

13%

8%

8%

7%

7%

9%

(n)

(840)

(749)

(809)

(758)

(785)

(733)

(742)

(739)

(743)

(754)

(827)

(847)

(838)

(835)

(1,017)

         *Prior polls included an explicit “no opinion” option in the question.

[QUESTIONS 16 & 17 WERE ROTATED]

Looking ahead to next year’s presidential election, imagine the Democratic nominee is Joe Biden and the Republican nominee is Donald Trump. In this scenario…

16.    How likely are you to vote for Donald Trump – will you definitely vote for him, probably vote for him, probably not vote for him, or definitely not vote for him?

TREND:

REGISTERED VOTERS

July2023

May2023

Definitely

26%

29%

Probably

14%

12%

Probably not

8%

8%

Definitely not

50%

46%

(VOL) Don’t Know

1%

4%

(n)

(840)

(907)

17.    How likely are you to vote for Joe Biden – will you definitely vote for him, probably vote for him, probably not vote for him, or definitely not vote for him?

TREND:

REGISTERED VOTERS

July2023

May2023

Definitely

36%

32%

Probably

11%

13%

Probably not

6%

7%

Definitely not

46%

45%

(VOL) Don’t Know

1%

3%

(n)

(840)

(907)

18.    If Trump and Biden are the major party nominees, how likely would you be to vote for a third-party fusion ticket that included a [Democrat] and a [Republican] for president and vice president – would you definitely vote for the third-party ticket, probably vote for them, probably not vote for them, or definitely not vote for them? [PARTIES WERE ROTATED]

REGISTERED VOTERS

July2023

Definitely

5%

Probably

25%

Probably not

34%

Definitely not

31%

(VOL) Don’t Know

5%

(n)

(840)

19.    What is the possibility that a third-party fusion ticket could actually get elected in 2024 – is it very possible, somewhat possible, not too possible, or not at all possible?

REGISTERED VOTERS

July2023

Very possible

5%

Somewhat possible

23%

Not too possible

31%

Not at all possible

39%

(VOL) Don’t Know

2%

(n)

(840)

20.    If the third-party fusion ticket was comprised of [Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin] for president and [Republican former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman] for vice president – would you definitely vote for the third-party ticket, probably vote for them, probably not vote for them, or definitely not vote for them?  [NAMES WERE ROTATED FOR HALF THE SAMPLE]

REGISTERED VOTERS

July2023

Combined

Manchin President/ Huntsman VP

Huntsman President/ Manchin VP

Definitely

2%

2%

2%

Probably

14%

13%

16%

Probably not

31%

32%

31%

Definitely not

44%

44%

45%

(VOL) Don’t Know

8%

8%

7%

(n)

(840)

(418)

(422)

[QUESTIONS 21 & 22 WERE ROTATED]

21.    If you thought that voting for a third-party ticket could lead to the election of Donald Trump, would you vote for Trump, Joe Biden, or the third-party ticket?

REGISTERED VOTERS

July2023

Trump

33%

Biden

43%

Third party

20%

(VOL) Don’t Know

4%

(n)

(840)

22.    If you thought that voting for a third-party ticket could lead to the election of Joe Biden, would you vote for Biden, Donald Trump, or the third-party ticket?

REGISTERED VOTERS

July2023

Biden

39%

Trump

37%

Third party

20%

(VOL) Don’t Know

5%

(n)

(840)

[Q23-34 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from July 12 to 17, 2023 with a probability-based national random sample of 910 adults age 18 and older. Interviews were conducted in English, and included 319 live landline telephone interviews, 480 live cell phone interviews, and 111 online surveys via a cell phone text invitation. Telephone numbers were selected through a mix of random digit dialing and list-based sampling. Landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Interviewing services were provided by Braun Research, with sample obtained from Dynata (RDD, n= 569), Aristotle (list, n= 136) and a panel of prior Monmouth poll participants (n= 205). Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (ACS 2021 one-year survey). The results in this poll release are based on a subsample of 840 registered voters. For results based on the sample of registered voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points adjusted for sample design effects (1.44). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

REGISTERED VOTERS

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)

Self-Reported

27% Republican

43% Independent

31% Democrat

 

48% Male

52% Female

 

26% 18-34

34% 35-54

40% 55+

 

64% White

11% Black

15% Hispanic

  9% Asian/Other

 

65% No degree

35% 4 year degree

MARGIN OF ERROR

unweighted  sample

moe(+/-)

REGISTERED VOTERS

 

840

4.9%

SELF-REPORTED PARTY ID

Republican

218

9.6%

Independent

365

7.4%

Democrat

255

8.8%

IDEOLOGY

Liberal

205

9.9%

Moderate

324

7.9%

Conservative

298

8.2%

GENDER

Male

415

6.9%

Female

425

6.9%

AGE

18-34

127

12.5%

35-54

276

8.5%

55+

435

6.8%

CHILDREN IN HOME

Yes

185

10.4%

No

652

5.5%

RACE

White, non-Hispanic

627

5.6%

Other

190

10.2%

COLLEGE GRADUATE

No degree

392

7.1%

4 year degree

444

6.7%

WHITE COLLEGE

White, no degree

280

8.4%

White, 4 year degree

344

7.6%

INCOME

<$50K

217

9.6%

$50 to <$100K

229

9.3%

$100K+

343

7.6%

Crosstabs may be found in the PDF file on the report webpage:  https://www.monmouth.edu/polling-institute/reports/monmouthpoll_US_072023/

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One response to “Monmouth Poll: Difficult Path for 2024 Third-Party Bid”

  1. Monmouth U. poll once again shows its inherent bias in polling. They claim that most of their poll is independents. Hard to believe independents in NJ go for Biden, knowing his crime family bribery scandals, his failed policies driving everyone’s buying power down and costs way up. Most other polls show Trump up by 4-7 points. So, again, Monmouth U. poll goes against the norm because of its massive strong left-wing bent. Monmouth U. poll is an outlier and can’t be trusted in polling.

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