President Ron Paul? President Ralph Nader? Americans Split on the Need for a Third Party

The numbers are even, but could third-party supporters ever unite in a large enough group?

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Do we need a third party? Americans are evenly split on the question, according to Gallup, with 47 percent saying yes and 47 percent saying no. What I find particularly striking is that in the middle of last year, 58 percent favored a third party and 33 percent thought the two parties were doing the job.

Of course, the problem with such a question is the specifics: How many of that 47 percent are on the Ralph Nader side of the spectrum, and how many on the Ron Paul? If the 47 percent—or even a large number of them—could coalesce, they would be a powerful force. But they are too fractured and diffuse.

I bring all of this up, of course, because we've got a pretty good debate between Ralph Nader and Newt Minow about whether third-party candidates should be allowed into the presidential debates. If you haven't already, check it out—and then weigh in in the comment section.