The latest polls show that Jill Stein appears to have fallen into the traditionally late-race stall that takes over third parties, sinking further from the Green Party’s goal of reaching 5 percent support nationwide that would qualify them for matching federal funding in the next election.
But the numbers could be missing out on some important chunk of voters, a group that could likely put Stein well over her goal.
The numbers themselves look bleak for Jill Stein this year. After reaching a high of just under 5 percent national support in polls aggregated by Real Clear Politics in the beginning of July, Stein has seen a steady decline over the remainder of the summer and early fall. She stood at just 2.1 percent at the end of October.
But there are signs that the polls may be underestimating the level of support for Jill Stein. The Independent Voter Project noted earlier in the election season that many polls appear to be reaching a lower share of the lowest-income voters, where Stein and the Green Party would have a better foothold.
“Of the five polls in question, only the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll makes this information readily available to the public. And, the documentation suggests that this poll undercuts the voices of low-income Americans.
“While Census 2014 estimates show that around 47% of American households bring in less than 50k a year, the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll reports that only around 36% of its respondents fall into this income category.”
Other pollsters have noted the difficulty in predicting who will turn out on Election Day this year. Polling is a science that makes what is essentially the best educated guess about who will turn out, but this year may be particularly difficult to do that.
“These methods, which have been around for so long, may be losing some of their accuracy because circumstances have changed,” Scott Keeter, a senior survey adviser at Pew Research, told the Atlantic. “Whether there has been a change in our politics in just the last two years that makes all of this less accurate is really impossible to answer at this point.”
So while the polling itself may make it seem difficult for Jill Stein to reach 5 percent, the reality could put her much closer. And for her part, Stein believes the Green Party may have deep support. In an article for CNBC, Stein wrote that she has been traveling the country and found support in a group of what she called “unlikely” voters — millennials, indebted students, poor and working class people, immigrants, and people of color.
Reaching the 5 percent marker would allow the Green Party to “leap over the undemocratic barriers to ballot access for independent parties in many states” and help lay the groundwork to create a true challenge to the two-party system, she noted.
“Just 5 percent of the national vote for the Green Party Stein/Baraka ticket can be a true game-changer for American politics,” she wrote. “It will qualify the Green Party for recognition as an official national party, and for federal funding in the 2020 presidential race proportional to the amount of votes received — at least $8 million to $10 million.”
Where Jill Stein moves in the polls over the next week will be critical. If her party continues to sink, it could point to a traditional Election Day where the third-party candidates grab just a tiny portion of the electorate. But if the Green Party can hold steady — or even make gains — it could be a sign that Stein is ready to sprint to the finish and turn in a better-than-expected showing. The 5 percent marker could even be within reach.
[Featured Image by Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx/AP Images]