As discontented Americans consider having to choose between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump at the ballot box next year, almost 15% of registered voters say, when presented with the choice in the new NBC News poll, that they will vote for a third party or independent candidate in the latest NBC News poll.
That would be a major increase from the less than 2% of voters in 2020 who actually voted for a candidate other than Biden or Trump.
When given five options, 39% of voters said they would vote for Trump, 36% said they would vote for Biden, 5% said they would vote for a Libertarian candidate, 5% said they would vote for a No Labels candidate and 4% said they would vote for a Green Party candidate.
The test doesn't include candidate names or information about them, a key missing piece that will get filled in between now and the next election. But a ballot test between just Biden and Trump among the same group of voters results in a tie at 46% each, reinforcing fears among Democrats that a major third-party initiative in 2024 could be a spoiler for Biden’s re-election bid.
Also ominous for Biden is that only 77% of the voters who select him in a two-way ballot test stick with him on the five-way ballot test, versus 84% of Trump voters who select him on the two-way test and stick with him on the five-way.
And few voters who choose a third party or independent candidate said they were doing so because they favor a specific third party.
One poll respondent, a young woman from Ohio, preferred a Libertarian candidate because “I just think Democrats and Republicans are too polarized, and Libertarians are the middle.”
Overwhelmingly, voters who choose a candidate other than Trump or Biden in the poll say they would do so because they are frustrated with both candidates or both parties.
“I am tired of partisan politics. It seems to be all we get. I don’t like the two major parties,” another poll respondent, a Kentucky woman in her 40s, said.
Another, a woman in her 60s from Pennsylvania, said, “I can’t stand Trump and Biden, and they are too old. I would vote for anyone but those two. [I’m] tired of old white men that have mental health issues.”