Monday, July 28, 2008

The potential impact of third parties on the general election: what polling data shows

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Due to a screw-up in my source material I mistakenly listed Dave Krikorian as running in Oklahoma, not Ohio; it has been corrected.

I've just done a state-by-state run of most of the more recent polls, and I have excerpted general results below.

I have learned several things by doing this.

1) Adding actual third-party names (Barr, Nader, etc.) as Zogby does, really changes the response pattern. Not only did it break out that Other category, in many cases it caused a dramatic shift in the Obama-McCain numbers at serious odds with other polls. Usually this effect hurt McCain more--but not always. The question then becomes, which type of polling is more accurate? Polls that focus on the big two, or polls that add in all the other names and potentially sway voters with that choice? I have no idea.

2) Forget the confident projections of any particular outcome: several battleground states are swinging back and forth like crazy; where they swing in November, nobody today knows.

3) Bob Barr is having a distinct impact, though how long that will hold in a tight race is anybody's guess. Right now, if you believe Zogby, Barr is pulling at least 5% (and sometimes 7-9/10%) in 22 states! Nationally he's only showing at 3%, but for him to be having this sort of impact in nearly half the states is pretty damn amazing.

4) Ralph Nader is also having an impact, again garnering at least 2% in 14 states and 1% in another half dozen.

5) So if you take 3 and 4 together, that's a pretty hard 5-7% committed third-party vote across at least half the nation. Does it exist anywhere else? Without the polls, hard to know.

6) I've included all the poll results for named third-party candidates in non-Presidential elections where I could find them; some of them are really interesting, too.

Here are the numbers:


Zogby has Barr at 4%, Nader below 1% and McCain up by 11%


Ramussen has McCain up by 5%, with Other showing at 7%; Other in this case is Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin


Zogby has Obama up by 3%, with Barr at 7%, Nader at 2% and Other (undefined) at 5%


The presidential polls are all over the place; Zogby has Obama winning 41-39 with Barr at 4 and Nader at 1, but Rasmussen has McCain at 47 and Obama at 37 with Other (undefined) at 5%--who the hell knows?


Zogby has Obama up 53-32, with Barr taking 5, Nader 1, and Other (undefined) 5


Zogby has Obama leading 40-38 (but Quinnipiac has McCain up 46-44) with Barr at 8, Nader at 2, and Other (undefined) at 1


Zogby has Obama 48-32 with Barr at 5, Nader at 2, Other (undefined) at 3


Doesn’t have an active poll since February—we rock, don’t we?


Doesn’t have an active poll since February either; you’ll be glad to know that Hillary is losing.


The Presidential polls go back and forth, separating McCain and Obama by 2-4 points in either direction; Zogby has McCain up 43-39 with Barr at 6, Nader at 2, Other (undefined) at 4


The State is going to have to move significantly if Obama is going to put it in play. Rasmussen has it McCain 48-39 with Barr taking 5%.

The Georgian Senate race is showing Saxby Chambliss with a comfortable lead over pretty much any Dem, but Other (which in this case means Libertarian Allen Buckley) is garnering 3-4% in Rasmussen polls.


Nothing since February.


Nothing presidential since February. The Senate race is showing Independent Rex Rammell taking 6%.


Zogby shows Obama winning (no shit) 52-32 with Barr at 5, Nader at 1, Other (undefined) at 3.

In Illinois’ 11th Congressional District, Green Party Candidate Jason Wallace is getting 6%.


In presidential terms another seesaw, but Zogby right now has McCain up 40-39 with Barr at 7, Nader below 1, and Other (undefined) at 3.

In House District 9, Libertarian Eric Schansberg is holding at 4%.


This is one place Barr seems to be killing McCain. The polls generally show Obama up by 4-7 points, but Zogby says Obama 42-38 with Barr taking 8, Nader 1, and Other (undefined) taking 3.


Strongly McCain (52-32) according to Rasmussen with an undefined Other taking 9%.


McCain ahead 44-39 according to Zogby with Barr at 3, Nader at 1, and the undefined Other at 6.


Who do you trust? Rasmussen has McCain up by 54-35, but Zogby says it’s only McCain 47-40 with Barr at 4, Nader at 1, and Other at 3.


Rasmussen has Obama up 46-36 with Other at 7.

In the Senate race, Independent Herbert Hoffman (who is Other) is getting about 3%.


Zogby has Obama up 54-30 with Barr at 6, Nader at 1, and Other at 3


Zogby has Obama up (again, no shit) 54-29 with Barr at 5, Nader at 3, Other at 3


All over the place.

Quinnipiac has Obama 46-42 with Other at 3
EPIC-MRA has Obama 43-41 with Nader at 3, Barr at 2
Rasmussen has Obama 47-39 with Other at 5
Zogby has Obama 47-43 with Barr at 6, Nader at 2, Other at 4
It seems obvious that Barr is costing McCain a shot at being competitive here; not so obvious is whether Nader is keeping Obama from putting it away.


Quinnipiac has the race tightening with Obama up only 46-44 with Other getting 2, but Zogby is more in keeping with what everybody else is showing with Obama up 48-32, Barr at 8, Nader below 1, and Other at 4.


Rasmussen: McCain up 50-44 with Other getting 3.


Again Barr appears to be killing McCain, as according to Zogby Obama is up 42-40 with Barr taking 6, Nader 1, Other 4.


Rasmussen has this state having gone from McCain up 47-39 in May to Obama up 48-43 in July with Other at 4. Frankly, I have a hard time believing that in Montana Obama has accomplished a 9-point shift in two months without anybody noticing, but you never know.

In the Governor’s race, Libertarian Stan Jones is holding at 3%.

In the House race, Libertarian Mike Fellows is getting 5%.


No fifty-state strategy here, Barack. Rasmussen has McCain up 53-36 with Other at 6.


According to Zogby it’s a dead heat 38-38 with Barr at 9(!), Nader at 2, and Other at 6. This could be intresting.

New Hampshire

Zogby has Obama up only 40-37, with Barr at 10(!! Of course he’s not on the ballot yet), Nader at 2, and Other at 7.

New Jersey

Zogby: Obama up 49-36 with Barr at 3, Nader at 2, Other at 3.

New Mexico

Zogby shows Obama up 46-33 with Barr at 9, Nader at 2, Other at 4; but the latest Rasmussen poll shows Obama only up 46-41 with Other at 5.

New York

Zogby: Obama 51-30, Barr at 4, Nader at 2, Other at 4

North Carolina

TelOpinion has McCain up 43-40 with Barr at 2; Rasmussen has McCain up 45-42 with Other at 5; Zogby has Obama up 47-38 with Barr at 4, Nader at 1, Other at 4.

In the Governor’s race, TelOpinion has (D) Perdue up 43-40 with Libertarian Mike Munger at 2; SurveyUSA has the GOP’s McCrory up 47-46 with Munger at 3. This is the only non-Presidential poll in the country where a third-party candidate is consistently proving to hold the difference between the major candidates.

In the Senate race, Libertarian Chris Cole has 2%.

In House District 8, Libertarian Thomas Hill has 7%.

North Dakota

This is a toss-up with Rasmussen Rating it 43-43 with Other at 7.


This one goes back and forth: Rasmussen has McCain 46-40 with Other at 7, but Zogby has Obama up 43-38 with Barr at 7, Nader at 2, Other at 4.

In House District 2, Independent David Krikorian is drawing 6%.


Zogby: McCain up 42-37 with Barr at 9, Nader at 2, Other at 5.

In House District 15, Independent Don Elijah Eckhart is getting 5%.


Zogby: Obama up 49-33 with Barr at 6, Nader at 1, Other at 4.


Zogby: Obama 46-36 with Barr at 5, Nader at 2, Other at 4.

Rhode Island

Rasmussen: Obama 55-31; Other at 5.

South Carolina

Another madhouse.
Research 2000: McCain up 53-40
Public Policy Polling: McCain up 45-39 with Barr at 5
Zogby: Obama up 42-41 with Barr at 6, Nader at 1, Other at 3.

In the Senate race, former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride, running as an Independent, is getting 10%.

South Dakota

Rasmussen: McCain up 44-40 with Other at 7


Zogby: McCain up 41-36 with Barr at 7, Nader at 1, Other at 6


Zogby: McCain up 42-39 with Barr at 6, Nader at 2, Other at 4.


Rasmussen: McCain up 52-33 with Other at 8.


Nothing since February


A dead heat.
Public Policy: Obama 46-44
Rasmussen: 44-44 with Other at 5
Zogby: Obama 44-39 with Barr at 5, Nader at 1, Other at 4.
SurveyUSA: Obama 48-46


Zogby: Obama 48-35, Barr at 5, Nader at 2, Other at 4

West Virginia

Rasmussen: McCain up 45-37 with Other at 13 (!)


Zogby: Obama up 48-38 with Barr at 4, Nader at 1, Other at 2


Research 2000: McCain up 53-40


Anonymous said...

Thanks for collating and putting all this together...

One minor correction - Barr is NOT on the ballot in Mass, and has no petitions in play...

George Phillies is in the process of collecting his VALIDATED signatures (I'll personally have picked up about 3K of the needed 10K by tomorrow afternoon)

He will be on the ballot shortly, at which point there will be litigation over whether or not the Sec. State has to allow substitution to swap Barr for Phillies.

Until / unless that happens it is relatively meaningless to talk about Barr's numbers in connection w/ Mass...

LPMA Operations Facilitator
LPMA Presidential Elector, NOT voting for Barr!
Speaking for myself

Ryan said...

Just wanted to say that David Kirkorian is running in the OH-02 race and not the OK-02.

The only unbiased poll actually had him at 15%. Vic Wulsin, the dem, commissioned the poll that had him at 6% and it was only an "internal poll".

Steven H. Newton said...

Good point and thanks; I was using a site that compiles most major poll results on a state by state basis, and inevitably some errors creep in. Nor do they have all the polls by any measure.

That's what makes it so difficult to gauge things; you have to do an God-awful amount of work to canvas the country; doing what I did, as imperfect as I knew it was, required me to visit 70+ web pages and took over 2 hours.


With respect to Barr and Mass; I realize he's not on the ballot, but I reported him because he's in the Zogby poll as a choice.

Most of these numbers are meaningless at this point other than as the grossest imperfect indicators of national trends.

Ryan said...


Fair enough, I can understand the difficulty of tracking down all the polls from all over the country and trying to vet them accordingly. Just so its clear though. David Krikorian isn't running in Oklahoma. He's actually running in Ohio's second district. You have it listed as Oklahoma's second district in your post.

Steven H. Newton said...

Sorry Ryan, I meant to correct that when I answered your last comment, but I got distracted.

It's fixed now.