President Tancredo? Just Maybe, If You Believe This Poll

A new poll from Rasmussen Reports has some bad news for Republicans—well, almost all Republicans. If you’re Rep. Tom Tancredo (R.-Colo.), the news couldn’t be better.

While a generic Republican candidate trails a generic Democrat by 12 percentage points, according to the poll, a third-party candidate who runs on a get-tough-on-immigration platform not only beats the Republican, but also actually runs even with the Democrat. Here’s an excerpt:

The survey also 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."

With that option, support fell sharply for both major parties. The Democrats still come out on top with support from 31% of Americans. The third party candidate moved into a virtual tie at 30% while the GOP fell to 21%.

If anyone fits Rasmussen’s description it’s Tancredo, who has made a very public name for himself as the anti-illegal-immigration crusader in Congress. And having spent time in both Iowa and New Hampshire beginning last year, he’s posited himself to be the candidate who could play spoiler.

Coming back to reality for just one moment, I should note the rest of the Rasmussen commentary about the poll numbers:

This result probably reflects unhappiness with both parties on the immigration issue rather than a true opportunity for a third party. Historically, issues that drive third party candidates get co-opted by one of the major parties as they demonstrate popular appeal. Most Americans favor a barrier along the border and enforcement of existing law prior to other reforms.

With the immigration issue candidate as an option, 36% of conservative voters opt for the Republican candidate while 35% take the third party option. Among political moderates, 34% pick the Democrat while 32% prefer the third party option.

I’d recommend reading the full Rasmussen summary as well as my post last night about the new Diageo/Hotline poll on Democrats.