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Support for Third Parties Declining in U.S. House Races

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A Smart Politics analysis of 2006 election results finds support for third parties continuing to drop—for the second straight election cycle since 2002.

In 2006, 2.25 percent of votes for U.S. House candidates went to third parties, compared to 2.37 percent in 2004 and 3.03 percent in 2002.

In 2006 there were 158 districts in which a third party candidate received at least 2 percent of the vote—the same number of districts as in 2004, but well below the 224 districts with candidates achieving such support in 2002.

The drop in votes cast for third party candidates in 2006 is a bit surprising—given the low confidence numbers Congress received this year (due in part to several scandals that touched both Republicans and Democrats). One might have expected third parties to smell blood in the water—and rally now more than ever to gather support to their side in an election year in which several districts decided to 'throw the bums out.' It seems voter disdain for Republicans in particular - and the desire to insure GOP officeholders were replaced with Democrats - trumped general voter disgust for the institution and the two major parties.

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