A generic third-party presidential candidate emphasizing border security would tie a Democratic candidate and defeat a Republican, according to a new poll.
The Rasmussen Reports national survey asked respondents how they would vote if “a third party candidate ran in 2008 and promised to build a barrier along the Mexican border and make enforcement of immigration law his top priority.”
In that scenario, Democrats, with 31 percent, would be in a virtual tie with the third-party candidate, with 30 percent of the vote. The Republican candidate would be favored by only 21 percent.
Rasmussen comments that the result “probably reflects unhappiness with both parties on the immigration issue rather than a true opportunity for a third party.”
Historically, the pollster points out, issues that drive third-party candidates are co-opted by one of the major parties as they prove popular.
Rasmussen surveys have indicated most Americans favor a barrier along the border and enforcement of existing laws prior to other reforms.
Without the third-party candidate, according to the new poll, Democrats hold a 12-point advantage over Republicans on a generic 2008 presidential ballot, 44 percent to 32 percent.