A new poll from Rasmussen Associates shows just how much a third party candidate might influence the general election. Of the Republicans polled, 27% said that if Rudy Giuliani was the Republican candidate and there was a third party candidate who was backed by Christian conservative leaders, they would vote for the third party candidate.
In a three-way race between Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani and that third party candidate, Clinton would get 46% of the vote, Giuliani 30% and the third party with 14%. When it is just Clinton and Giuliani, it is much more competitive.
The poll was done because over the past weekend several Christian conservative leaders said that they might back a pro life third party candidate if the Republican nominee was Giuliani.
Putting this all into prospective, a generic third party candidate may show up with 14%, but when and if there is an actual third party candidate, the voters would look at a specific person and judge him on a lot of different issues and the numbers could be lower. It is normal for third party candidates the come higher in the polls in the early parts of the campaign and they fall lower in the polls as election day draws closer. But if there is a third party candidate that fills the requirements, some Republicans will vote for him and that will help Clinton or any other Democrat.
The poll also shows that 17% of Republicans believe that it is very likely that conservative leaders will back a pro life candidate if Giuliani is nominated. 32% say somewhat likely, 22% say very likely and 33% say somewhat likely.
Most Republicans say they are pro life while most Democrats and unaffiliated voters say they are pro choice.
Giuliani right now is considered to be the most electable of all the Republican candidates. Earlier in the month, 72% of Republicans said Giuliani would be at least somewhat likely to win the White House if he was the Republican nominee. But, in the current survey, it falls to 58% if the third party scenario becomes real. And only 18% believe that he would end up in the White House. In a two-way race it is 31%.
Among all the voters, not only the Republicans, but 49% say that Giuliani is at least somewhat likely to win in a two-way match up. That falls to 43% with a three-way race.
Giuliani is viewed as moderate or liberal by about 66% of Republicans. Fred Thompson is considered the most conservative.
Out of the last four presidential elections, three have been won with less than 50% of the vote. If Clinton is the Democratic nominee, there is a very real chance that neither one of the major parties will have more than 50% and any third party candidate could have a major effect on and take votes away from either party.
Source: Rasmussen http://www.rasmussenreports.com/