With a record share of Americans expressing unfavorable opinions of the two main parties37% of Americans wish they had more political parties to choose from, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.
The Pew Research Center conducted this analysis to understand Americans’ views on the prospect of new political parties, as part of an in-depth study of how Americans perceive the state of American politics today. For this study, we surveyed 8,480 U.S. adults from July 10 to 16, 2023.
All those who participated in the current survey are members of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel recruited through a national random sampling of residential addresses. This way, almost every American adult has a chance of being selected. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Learn more about the The ATP methodology.
Yet there is considerable skepticism that having additional parties would make it easier to solve the nation’s problems. About a quarter of adults (26%) say it would make problem solving easier, while almost as many (24%) say it would not.
- Americans’ opinions on the idea of having more political parties differ by age and partisanship: nearly half (48%) of adults under 30 and a similar share (46%) of those 30 to 49-year-olds say they often wish there were more political parties. . This compares to a third of those aged 50 to 64 and just 21% of those aged 65 and over who say the same.
- Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (44%) are more likely than Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (32%) to say they often wish there were more political parties. In both partisan coalitions, the thinner ones — those who identify as independents or another party but lean toward one of the two major parties — are more likely to want additional parties. Democrats are particularly likely to say this.
Would more parties help solve the country’s problems?
Just as younger Americans are more likely to express a desire to create more parties, they are also more likely to think that adding parties would make it easier to solve the country’s problems.
About four in ten Americans ages 18 to 29 (39%) say they think more parties would make it easier to solve problems. Only 12% of those aged 65 and over say this.
Party supporters are more likely than partisans to think that adding parties would make it easier to solve the country’s problems. But Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say that (44% versus 29%).
Age differences in the two parties
Republicans under 50 are nearly twice as likely as those 50 and older (42% vs. 23%) to say they often wish there were more political parties. And younger Republicans are twice as likely (28% vs. 14%) to say more parties would make it easier to solve problems.
A similar pattern is emerging for Democrats. While about half (51%) of Democrats under 50 often wish they had more parties to choose from, 31% of those 50 and older say the same. About four in ten young Democrats (41%) say it would be easier to solve the country’s problems with more parties, compared with 20% of older Democrats.
Could an independent candidate win the presidency?
As in previous presidential elections, one or more independent candidates could siphon votes Republican and Democratic candidates in next year’s elections.
However, most Americans doubt whether an independent candidate can actually win the presidency within the next 25 years.
Only a third of Americans say it is even somewhat likely that an independent will win the presidency during this period, including just 7% who say it is very likely.
There are only modest differences in these views by age and party. About two-thirds of all age groups and both party coalitions say it is unlikely that an independent candidate will be elected president in the next quarter century.