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Majority of Americans want third political party, poll finds

Fifty-eight percent of Americans believe a third political party is necessary because Republicans and Democrats "do such a poor job" representing the people they serve, according to a new poll from Gallup.

That figure isn't quite a record high -- 60 percent voiced support for a third party in a similar poll last year -- but it still reflects a majority of Americans who feel dissatisfied with the country's two-party system.

Only 35 percent of respondents said the two parties are doing an adequate job in this year's survey. Last year, during the crucible of the government shutdown, that number was only 26 percent.

The results apparently sync with the low approval ratings for both parties, which hover around 40 percent, according to Gallup.

Independent voters who affiliate with neither party were far more likely to support a third party, with 71 percent saying it may be necessary. Only 46 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of Democrats agreed.

Despite the seemingly fertile ground for a new political party, Gallup noted the institutional hurdles that would make it difficult for such an effort to succeed, including "the Electoral College system of electing presidents and election of members of Congress from individual states and districts based on the candidate getting the most votes."

"It is unclear how many Americans would actually support a third party if it came to be," wrote Gallup's Jeffrey Jones. "Americans' preference for a third party may reflect their frustration with the way the Republican and Democratic parties are performing, as well as the idea that the system ought to be open to new parties, regardless of whether this is viable in practice."

Gallup's poll surveyed 1,017 adults nationwide between September 4-7, and it carries a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

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