Americans Want Parties Reformed But Can’t Agree On How, FSC Center For Polling and Policy Research Finds

Feb 5, 2018

by Staff

A new poll just released by the Florida Southern College Center for Polling and Policy Research finds that there is widespread support for reforming the system of political parties in America but little agreement on the specific changes needed.

“Reforming American Political Parties,” a nationwide poll conducted in November, found that 77 percent of respondents agree some type of reform is needed within the Democratic Party and 82 percent believe the same regarding the Republican Party.

But when self-identified members of either party were asked about specific institutions and processes within their party’s organization, few were identified as needing change. The poll also found that in almost every case, most party members wanted their party’s position on major issues to remain the same.

Asked about the electoral system, respondents to the poll did support changing the U.S. Constitution to allow for more than two parties to regularly win elections. This position was supported more among Democrats (66.5 percent) compared to Republicans (47.8 percent) and was also favored by a majority of individuals identifying as neither Republican nor Democrat (58.8 percent). But respondents identified only a few circumstances under which they would vote for third-party candidates. Only when third-party candidates are closer to them on the issues would Republicans, Democrats, and independents support them electorally, the poll found.

The results reveal a high degree of interest in reforming the American party system, but a general unwillingness to change how parties currently conduct business, the positions they take on the issues, and how the electoral system is organized, said Dr. Zachary Baumann, assistant professor of political science at FSC, who supervised the poll.

“People know they dislike parties, but they’re not sure why,” he said. “We notice that today there’s a lot of anger in a Congress that’s dysfunctional, parties unwilling to cooperate with each other and a president angry at Democrats. The poll demonstrates that ill will extends well into the public. However, attitudes are not specific about the elements of parties that need to be changed. People want parties to work in the same way but with different results.”

The poll was conducted by FSC students and faculty under the auspices of the Florida Southern College Center for Polling and Policy Research with 1,124 residents of the United States on November 20, 2017, using Survey Monkey’s Audience product.

For more information about the “Reforming American Political Parties Poll,” contact Dr. Zachary Baumann at 863-680-4962 or zbaumann@flsouthern.edu.