"I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The party left me," Ronald Reagan famously said after becoming a Republican in 1962. According to a new Gallup poll, a record number of Republicans now feel their party has left them. The poll found that 62% of Americans feel the two main parties "do such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed." That's the highest proportion since Gallup starting asking the question in 2003, and it now includes a majority of Republicans. Some 63% of Republicans now believe a third party is needed, up from 40% in September last year. Among independents, support for a third party was at 70%, while 46% of Democrats would like to see a third major political party, down from 52% in September. The poll also found that a record 50% of Americans now identify as independents.
But while most Republicans now desire a third party, it would take more than one extra party to encompass their views. Some 40% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said the party should become more conservative, while 24% wanted it to become more moderate and 36% felt it should stay the same. Some 68% of Republicans wanted Donald Trump to remain as party leader, compared to just 47% of GOP-leaning independents. Among Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents, 34% wanted the party to become more liberal, 34% felt it should become more moderate, and 31% wanted it to stay the same. No third-party candidate has carried a state in a presidential election since segregationist George Wallace won five Southern states in 1968, though Ross Perot took 18.9% of the vote nationwide in 1992. (Dozens of former GOP officials have been discussing forming a center-right third party.)