Joe Lockhart and Mark McKinnon, two of the founders of the latest useless online political forum, Hotsoup.com, published a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel op-ed yesterday hyping the third party threat for 2008:
An analysis of exit polls from the 2004 presidential election reveal that while the percentage of ticket-splitting voters has decreased every election since 1988, there is a large bloc - as many as a third of the electorate - that votes straight-ticket Republican or Democratic even though they are not philosophically suited for either party.
Voters in this squishy middle are not necessarily ideological cousins (it would be wrong to call this a moderate middle), but they are united by their shared frustration with the political system.
Call them the "disenchanted middle," ripe for the plucking by a third-party insurgency in 2008 or a candidate who reforms his or her party from within.
But there will almost surely not be a serious third-party insurgency in 2008 for the reasons I have outlined over and over. This is just an easy way to make normal political discontent seem dramatic. In particular, note that, as Lockhart and McKinnon acknowledge, "the percentage of ticket-splitting voters has decreased every election since 1988." That's one of many reasons it would be hard for a third-party candidate to win.