Gallup is a well-respected polling group, with a long history of non-partisan, independent polling dating back decades. Polls run by George Gallup have returned accurate and insightful results since the Roosevelt upset of 1936, and the Gallup organization continues this tradition today.
In recent polling, Gallup introduced a new set of questions into the mix, to determine the third-party effect. The results look bad for the presumptive Republican nominee.
While the third-party candidates themselves are not polling incredibly high (the highest being Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson) they do sap away the figures from the two major party candidates. What is more telling, however, is now much they take away. Obama they found lost a half percentage to Green candidate Jill Stein, but Romney was the real loser with the added factor taken into effect. Without it, Obama and Romney are within the margin of error of each other. But with it, Romney lost five percentage points, split between the Libertarian candidate, Constitution candidate Virgil Goode and Ron Paul as a write in.
If, however, these numbers carry forward, the real story here is how the Libertarians, which had a grand total of 0.4% of the vote in the last election, increased their polling percentage by over 800%. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is polling very strongly for a third-party candidate in several key states. In his home state of New Mexico, for example, he was pulling 12% back in June against the two major party candidates. And former governor Johnson is pulling even higher polling results since the Gallup results earlier this month, getting 5.3% just last week.
Even more interesting is Virgil Goode, former six-term congressman from Virginia. In polling released last week, Goode was pulling in 9% in his home state. With the two major candidates being split less than 4% without his inclusion on the ballot, and with Goode’s base being considered for Romney primarily, this looks even worse for the presumptive GOP candidate.
The pre-convention counter-convention being held by Ron Paul fans in Tampa, the Paul Festival, is a clear example of this division in the right-wing ranks. In the middle of the festival, on Saturday the 25th, Gary Johnson will be there to speak to the crowd of Ron Paul supporters. After being frozen out of the Republican debates, Johnson is making his pitch to the supporters of the Texas Congressman just before the Republican National Convention. Already these supporters of Dr. Paul have sued to free up their votes in the convention. The results of this lawsuit are anticipated the week before the convention, and will be fresh in the minds of these supporters when the Libertarian candidate speaks to them.
With the inability of Romney to connect with average voters, and the near collapse of several state Republican parties, it is inevitable that some will start to look away from the party boss selected candidate and to alternative messages. If Romney cannot pull his campaign together soon, he might find himself in a death spiral which could take his party down with him.
This whole time echoes the last time a major political party in the US entered its death throws, the Whigs, which solidly won for decades only to then collapse over a period of a few years, going from a surge in 1850, to ruin one election later due to internal schisms caused by the growth of the know-nothing movement, an eerie echo of the current Tea Party. If the GOP cannot divorce itself from this anti-intellectualism poison, it too will suffer the same collapse as the party they replaced, the once grand Whigs.