In a little-noticed Washington Post end-of-year piece, Douglas Schoen answered the question, “What Will Be 2011′s Biggest Political Surprise?,” with the following prediction:
The biggest political surprise of 2011 will be the emergence of a potentially serious third-party candidate for president in 2012. There is simply too much dissatisfaction with Washington and with our political system for this not to happen.
With the overall fiscal health of the national arguably more perilous than it was when Ross Perot surprisingly emerged as a third-party candidate in 1992, there is every reason to believe that the dynamics are even more congenial than they were 18 years ago.
Moreover, polling that I have done shows that in excess of 60 percent want a third-party candidate. Trial heats that I conducted shortly before the November election found that 15 to 25 percent now say that they would vote for different third-party candidates, depending on the various match-ups.
Actually, Schoen’s polling (with disproportionately Republican respondents) shows that 51% favor having a third party in this country, but only 9% of voters are planning to vote for a third-party presidential candidate in 2012. But regardless, Schoen predicts the emergence of a certain kind of candidate:
…a business person who is simply fed up. Groups of both activists and well-heeled contributors around the country are already talking about the possibility, given the disaffection that exists.
Douglas Schoen does not identify himself in the Washington Post as a consultant to the billionaire media magnate Michael Bloomberg, often mentioned as a possible 2012 presidential candidate running under some third party banner. But Bloomberg is indeed one of Schoen’s clients.
Curiously, Americans Elect Communications Manager Nick Troiano posted on Twitter to promote Schoen’s prediction. Americans Elect is gathering signatures to gain presidential ballot status as we speak for an as-yet unnamed candidate. In the last election cycle, Americans Elect (then known as Unity08) shared office space with a Draft Bloomberg Committee and even contributed to the Draft Bloomberg effort.