Los Angeles Times columnist Ron Brownstein (4/25/05):
[I]f the two parties continue on their current trajectories, the backdrop for the 2008 election could be massive federal budget deficits, gridlock on problems like controlling healthcare costs, furious fights over ethics and poisonous clashes over social issues and Supreme Court appointments. A lackluster economy that's squeezing the middle-class seems a reasonable possibility too.
In such an environment, imagine the options available to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) if he doesn't win the 2008 Republican nomination, and former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, now that he's dropped his flirtation with running for mayor of New York. If the two Vietnam veterans joined for an all-maverick independent ticket, they might inspire a gold rush of online support — and make the two national parties the latest example of the Internet's ability to threaten seemingly impregnable institutions.
Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board (5/25/05):
In a real cliffhanger, 14 U.S. senators, seven from each party, announced a compromise on judicial nominations that pulled their institution back from the precipice to which it had been driven by baying packs of ideologues.
It was great to see that the Senate still includes people who don't view all issues as iron-cage death matches between good and evil. The moderates won a victory, however temporary. Their civil good sense shamed partisans on both sides.
Looking at the group as it announced the deal, you could almost - but not quite - glimpse the outlines of a third party of the center. A key architect of this compromise, John McCain of Arizona, likely would win a presidential election today if he ran against any of the probable nominees of the two parties. By standing up for principle here, though, he's probably forfeited any shot at the GOP nod in 2008.
Blogger Mickey Kaus (5/31/05):
McCain doesn't have to run as a Republican. He can run as a third-party candidate, Perot-style. Isn't it, in fact, intuitively obvious that that's what McCain will do, once he's sufficiently infuriated by his rejection by GOP conservatives? ... And he might win. Polls show voters are dissatisfied with both parties, no? Ross Perot got 19 percent of the vote despite being labeled (unfairly or not) as wacky. That's a good base to start with. ... McCain would steal both moderate GOPs and moderate Dems. Suddenly the Republicans would too have to worry about the center, in a way they maybe wouldn't if they were just running against a Democrat.
The Atlantic's James Fallows (6/7/05):
I feel something different from what I've ever felt before in my depressingly long political life, which is I can imagine [in] another election or two a third party making it if people just feel the two established parties -- [which have] been around since before the Civil War -- that neither of them can deal with the actual issues that face the country. So this article proposes that in the third election from now the third party will win and I actually could imagine that happening.
Blogger Marshall Wittman (6/8/05):
Conditions are developing for a possible third party alternative in '08.
As the new Washington Post survey shows, independents are particularly estranged from the Bushies. The overall electorate is annoyed by both parties and the Washington politicians. The deficit is growing and the economy is anemic. The popularity of the Iraq war is plummeting and no end is in sight.
These are combustible conditions that could very well produce a third force in American politics. It is striking how similar the current situation is to that in 1992 when Perot emerged. Actually it is far worse - then, we were in the aftermath of a successful war although the economy was in a worse state.
Newsweek's Howard Fineman (1/4/06):
If Sen. John McCain doesn't win the Republican presidential nomination, I could see him leading an independent effort to "clean up" the capital as a third-party candidate. Having been seared by his own touch with this type of controversy (the Keating case in the '80s, which was as important an experience to him as Vietnam), McCain could team up with a Democrat, say, Sen. Joe Lieberman. If they could assemble a cabinet in waiting -- perhaps Wes Clark for defense, Russ Feingold for justice, Colin Powell for anything -- they could win the 2008 election going away.
US News & World Report's Paul Bedard (1/22/06):
Sen. John McCain' s white-hot public approval ratings--59 percent in the new Diageo/Hotline poll--are fast giving rise to a new 2008 presidential primary scenario among Washington's political brain trust. If, as conservatives believe, McCain's liberal stands on gays and abortion kill his GOP primary chances, he may ride into the election as an independent.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (4/28/06):
If the Democrats shirk this energy challenge, as the Republicans have, I'm certain there is going to be a third party in the 2008 election. It is going to be called the Geo-Green Party, and it is going to win a lot of centrist voters. The next Ross Perot will be green.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (5/3/06):
Yes, our system is rigged against third parties. Still, my gut says that some politician, someday soon, just to be different, just for the fun of it, will take a flier on telling Americans the truth. The right candidate with the right message on energy might be able to drive a bus right up the middle of the U.S. political scene today — lose the far left and the far right — and still maybe, just maybe, win a three-way election.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (6/16/06):
Frankly, I wish we did not need a third party. I wish the Democrats would adopt a Geo-Green agenda as their own. (Republicans never would.) But if not, I hope it will become the soul of a third party...
To be sure, Geo-Greenism is not a complete philosophy on par with liberalism or conservatism. But it can be paired with either of them to make them more relevant to the biggest challenges of our time. Even if Geo-Greenism couldn't attract enough voters to win an election, it might attract a big enough following to frighten both Democrats and Republicans into finally doing the right things.
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.
The American Prospect's Mark Schmitt (11/24/06):
It's tempting to make fun of Marshall Wittmann's newest guise, as Lieberman's communications director, as if it were just another twist in one of the oddest careers in Washington. The New York Times has some fun with that theme today. However, it's quite obvious where this is going. John McCain will fail to win the Republican nomination, and he and Lieberman will turn up as a third party presidential ticket. They will have a great shtick: "We were each rejected by the ideological extremists in our parties, therefore we represent the true forgotten center of American politics." The Broders of the world will salivate over the possibility. Except, of course, it will not be a centrist party. It will be the Neoconservative party, with Lieberman having taken that angry turn and McCain already there. And both are rank opportunists, for whom "straight talk" is an empty slogan.
Hotsoup co-founder Joe Lockhart (11/27/06):
If 2008 rolls around and not much has changed, the caucuses and primaries descend into their normal petty bickering and negative ads and debates, a new force will inevitably take shape. There has been much talk throughout our history of third parties. But it’s been mostly talk. Every three or four decades we have a challenge to our two-party system, a challenge that recedes as quickly as it came along.
2008 could be different. There are too many structural reasons to go into that make a third-party candidacy more legitimate in 2008. Suffice it to say; those structural differences mixed in with the mood of the country create a toxic brew for our two-party system.
Hotsoup co-founder Mark McKinnon (11/27/06):
If things keep going they way they have been, 2008 may make the voter of 1992 look like a bunch of happy campers. The time could be more than ripe for another third-party bid, especially if centrist, bipartisan candidates like McCain and Obama get bounced from their respective primaries.
All it will take is someone who understands just how hungry voters are for a third way. Someone with a lot of ambition and smarts. And someone with a whole lot of money. Wait, this sounds a lot like Mayor Mike Bloomberg in New York.
That’s right; Mike Bloomberg could be the Ross Perot of 2008. And I believe he’s not just thinking about it, but has some very talented aides cooking up plans in laboratory in the bowels of Gotham City. If he’s smart, he’ll wait to see how the primaries shake out, find the best person to lead the ticket, make himself the vice presidential candidate (which he has to do in order to fund the effort), and off they’ll go shake up the great race in 2008.
Unity '08 co-founder Jerry Rafshoon (12/6/06):
Our No. 1 goal is to elect [our ticket].
...Twenty percent of the vote is our minimum goal. It's our minimum.
We'll take it, certainly, if that's what we get. But think about this: By the time we have this convention, we'll have 5, 10, maybe even 20 million people on the Web site having this convention. Let's say it's 10 [million]. That'll be more people than have chosen the nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties, because they will have been chosen by the early primaries. It may not even break a million that have chosen those candidates.
That person will probably leap ahead in the polls then, because everybody's going to have them on the cover.... There may be people who wanted to get either one of their party's nomination and didn't get it; there could be new people; there maybe people from other disciplines than politics.
Political strategist Dick Morris (12/7/06):
The Lieberman victory bode well for a third party, triangulation master Dick Morris said in an interview for this story.
"Lieberman's ability to cross party lines easily, certainly is attracting Republican and independent voters and certainly shows that Bloomberg could succeed," Morris said. "His [Bloomberg's] combination of social liberalism and fiscal conservatism and hawkishness on terror is a great combo for independent voters."
McCain strategist Mark McKinnon (12/3/06):
A veteran campaigner for President Bush and a current adviser to Senator McCain, Mark McKinnon, told New York magazine that if the primaries "squeeze out the moderates, you'll have an ideal situation for a third-party run."
Political strategist Joe Trippi (12/10/06):
The Internet guru credited with transforming Howard Dean from an unknown governor to a front-runner in 2004, Joseph Trippi, sounded almost enthusiastic. "Given his resources, it's all sitting there for [Bloomberg]," Mr. Trippi said. "People are so sick of the polarization of politics that he could make the case that it's time to move beyond the two parties and that he's the one to lead us."
University of Texas professor Sanford Levinson (12/27/06):
The two-party system remains vulnerable to a challenge, and Rudy, for better and, definitely, for worse, is precisely the kind of person who could explode a lot of verities. He would offer Republicans who are sick and tired of the stranglehold over their party of the religious right a "safe harbor," without having to vote for, say, Hillary Clinton. Ditto those (unlike myself) who admire Lieberman and feel his pain at the ostensible leftward drift of the Democratic Party. One can easily imagine such a ticket winning enough electoral votes to throw the election into the House (the long-awaited train wreck), and there are even scenarios, albeit longshot that could have them winning enough of the large states plus some others to take the whole thing.
Democratic strategist Bob Shrum (6/11/07):
The second key question: Can Bloomberg win? Mike, a businessman, is not the type to launch a Quixotic quest. Well, believe it or not, there is a long-shot path to Pennsylvania Avenue - if he really goes for the win rather than contenting himself with playing spoiler. He could target states like Missouri, where his gun control position would doom him in a two-way race. In a three-way contest, it could pick up all the state's electoral votes with, say, 36% of the vote.
Blogger Andrew Sullivan (6/11/07):
If we end up in a polarizing Clinton-Giuliani race, then I predict a serious third party candidate.
Pollster John Zogby (6/21/07):
Now that Mayor Bloomberg has scuttled his membership in the GOP and an independent bid for the presidency looks more likely, the burning question on the minds of New Yorkers is: Can this guy really win? My polling shows his chances are promising.
Former senator Lincoln Chaffee (2/21/10):
Before long, we centrists may even come together to define the third party that Mr. Zogby foresaw in 2001.
Democratic strategist Mark Penn (5/6/10):
Thursday's elections in Britain could be a harbinger of what is likely to come to America in the not-too-distant future: new movements and even parties that shake up the political system...
Today, about 40 percent of Americans are political nomads, wandering from party to party in search of a permanent home...
There is also a structural problem -- socially liberal and fiscally conservative voters believe, especially after what happened with health care, that they have no clear choice: They must sign on with the religious right or the economic left. It is just a matter of time before they demand their own movement or party.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (10/3/10):
Barring a transformation of the Democratic and Republican Parties, there is going to be a serious third party candidate in 2012, with a serious political movement behind him or her — one definitely big enough to impact the election’s outcome.
There is a revolution brewing in the country, and it is not just on the right wing but in the radical center. I know of at least two serious groups, one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, developing “third parties” to challenge our stagnating two-party duopoly that has been presiding over our nation’s steady incremental decline.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (7/24/11):
Thanks to a quiet political start-up that is now ready to show its hand, a viable, centrist, third presidential ticket, elected by an Internet convention, is going to emerge in 2012. I know it sounds gimmicky — an Internet convention — but an impressive group of frustrated Democrats, Republicans and independents, called Americans Elect, is really serious, and they have thought out this process well. In a few days, Americans Elect will formally submit the 1.6 million signatures it has gathered to get on the presidential ballot in California as part of its unfolding national effort to get on the ballots of all 50 states for 2012.
National Journal's Ron Fournier (2/14/13):
My conversations this week with two Republican officials, along with a Democratic strategist's timely memo, reflect a growing school of thought in Washington that social change and a disillusioned electorate threaten the entire two-party system...
[Republican consultant Scott] Reed sketched a hypothetical scenario under which Paul runs for the Republican nomination in 2016, loses after solid showings in Iowa and other states run by supporters of his father (former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul), bolts the GOP, and mounts a third-party bid that undercuts the Republican nominee...
The next morning, Rep. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin dipped his spoon into a bowl of strawberries, sugar, and pink milk—and declared the era of two major parties just about over. “I think we’re at the precipice of a breakdown of the two-party system,” said the Wisconsin Republican.
A third voice joined the conversation when Democratic consultant Doug Sosnik released his State of the Union memo, a remarkable document warning both Democrats and Republicans about the increasing likelihood of a third-party presidential bid...
In a telephone interview last week, Sosnik said voters are wary of the leadership pool in U.S. politics. Business or even religious leaders could find traction in future presidential races.
“I think we will have a great debate with third and even fourth parties” vying for traditional GOP voters as well as Democrats now aligned with Obama, he said.
Republican strategist Ed Rogers in the Washington Post (9/23/13):
No one is winning this fight [over a potential government shutdown]. Does either party believe it can survive for much longer with this kind of dissatisfaction among their consumers? Voters might just go shopping for a better offer.
For the first time, I see the ingredients there for a third-party movement. It wouldn’t take much for a conservative third party to gather enough votes in a few districts and states to make a big difference. But any such movement would have to coalesce around a leader, and I don’t see who that person might be.
Our current broken system is producing a vacuum — and politics abhors a vacuum. If we don’t get our act together, something big (and not necessarily good) might appear on the horizon.