Amid the government shutdown, 60% of Americans say the Democratic and Republicans parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed.
Historically the chief function of third parties has been to push one of the major two parties in one or another ideological direction. Fearing, for instance, organizing, Huey Long-like threats from the left, FDR moved there himself in '35 and '36. Prior to that the 19th-century Populist Party (and ensuing progressive movement) ultimately morphed into domestic Wilsonianism.
The Tea Party movement, however, cannot move the Republican Party much further to the right. The latter's fearful, far-rightward stance is already an extremist abomination, and the accommodating host--the GOP--is being eaten alive by its Tea Party tumor.
Thus what's vividly needed is for the Republican Party to begin behaving once again like the second major party it once was--a party that coalesces around roughly outlined principles and can serve the interests of Northeastern moderates as well as old-school Southern conservatives and populist Westerners; in other words, a middle, centrist path, one on which virtually anyone of a conservative bent can rather comfortably take.
Or in other other words, the Republican Party simply needs to behave like the one of the two major parties it nominally is (for another week or so, anyway). At this point, a third party is entirely superfluous, since the Republican Party is already behaving like one.