John Anderson is not about to fade quietly from the American political scene. The veteran Illinois congressman has made this clear and in the process left the door to a possible second run for president four years hence more than ajar.
Despite his distant third-place finish in the Nov. 4 election, Mr. Anderson appears no less convinced that a large and growing number of citizens are thirsting for new approaches to the nation's challenges.
While disappointed that the independent candidate polled but 7 percent of the nation's popular vote, his campaign activists generally view their efforts as worthwhile.
Some, like John S. ames, who quarterbacked the Anderson push in Massachusetts , anticipate that the continued public role pledged by their candidate in his concession speech will involve considerably more than simply speaking out on various matters of national concern.
Already being discussed within Anderson ranks is the possible formation of some sort of "coalition for new ideas for responsive, far-sighted government."
Such a civic organization, or even third political party, would, it is felt, help keep Anderson supporters together while at the same time providing a possible springboard for a renewed presidential try in 1984.
If, as he has indicated, Anderson is to remain a strong voice on the national political scene, he needs not only to hold together as much of his support team as possible but also to expand his backing.
Although he did not fare as well as most recent voter opinion polls indicated he might, his share of the popular vote assures him of needed matching federal campaign funding, which will wipe out a more than $5 million deficit.
He had received less than 5 percent of the vote he would not have qualified for this assistance.
Anderson aides are convinced that his support was weakened considerably by the label of "political spoiler" placed on his candidacy by Democratic foes, who maintained that a vote for him would be "a vote for Ronald Reagan" or, at the least, wasted vote.
Most, if not all, pre-election voter preference samplings indicated that many citizens who planned to vote for either President Carter or Mr. Reagan actually favored the Illinois congressman but felt he stood no chance of winning.
Noting this, Anderson loyalists maintain that his appeal to the electorate is substantially greater than was recorded in the election.
The strongest Anderson ballot showing both now and last winter in the Republican preference primaries was here in New England.
In Massachusetts and Vermont he polled 15 percent of the popular vote, his highest proportion of support. And he scored 14 percent in Rhode Island, 13 percent in New Hampshire, and 12 percent in Connecticut. The weakest Anderson showing in New England was 10 percent in Maine.
These states were among 20 where his proportion of the popular vote was greater than his 7 percent overall level.
Colorado, Hawaii, and Washington State gave him 11 percent of their popular votes. Others were: Oregon 10 percent; Arizona, the District of columbia, and Iowa 9 percent each; and California, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, and North Dakota 8 percent each.
One of Anderson's weakest showings was in Carter's native Georgia, where he garnered but 2 percent of the votes cast.
Wisconsin, the home base of his running mate, Patrick Lucey, gave the independent only 7 percent.
In New York, one of the states where his appeal to liberal voters was expected to be a major asset, he also received only 7 percent of the popular vote.