Third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are now showing commanding support among young Americans, with a new McClatchy-Marist poll indicating that nearly 40 percent Americans under the age of 30 would prefer voting for them in the general election.
This surge in support for Johnson and Stein comes as both major-party candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, continue to struggle to establish a firm support among young people. While Clinton is viewed as basically dishonest and untrustworthy by a major section of these voters, Trump’s recent antics have meant that his already fledgling support among millennials has taken an even greater toll.
During the nominating season, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders dominated support among millennials by a long stretch among all the presidential candidates still left in the fray as late as early June. His policy positions, which included tightening the reins on Wall Street and bringing sweeping reforms on healthcare, coupled with his promise to abolish student debt once and for all, had made him an overwhelming favorite among young voters tired of growing corporatism in establishment politics.
But now with Sanders out of the equation completely, and with neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump even providing a faint hope of addressing issues directly relevant to young voters, third-party candidates like Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are beginning to reap the awards.
According to the McClatchy-Marist poll, 41 percent of voters below the age of 30 would vote for Hillary Clinton. And while that is probably sufficient — although disappointing — for a major party candidate, the numbers for Republican nominee Donald Trump make an astoundingly dismal reading. The poll suggests that only one in nine American between the ages of 18 and 30 would vote for him.
Compared to that, 23 percent millennial voters said in the poll that they would vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson. His numbers have shown a steady increase in the polls ever since the Republican convention drew to a close, and as The Huffington Post mentioned recently, a number of Americans who are fiscally conservative and socially liberal — something which may essentially be used to define a significant section of young Republican voter base — might choose to vote for him over Trump in the general election.
In fact, Johnson reckons that a large number of Americans are unaware of their political affiliation, something he succinctly put in a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune.
“Most people are libertarian. They just don’t know it.”
If they were to reconsider their votes, Johnson believes that he could have a shot at a record performance by a third-party candidate in the general election. The McClatchy-Marist poll attests that assumption, with Johnson showing a remarkable surge in his numbers, especially when it comes to the support among the millennials.
As a recent report on the conservative website Breitbart showed, millennials would prefer voting for Johnson over Trump because of the latter’s deeply bigoted views towards minorities, and in particular, towards the Muslims.
“Gary Johnson believes that any form of Muslim surveillance is ‘unconstitutional, racist, and incendiary.’ Polls conducted by the Pew Research center concluded that millennials agree with Johnson over Trump and are twice as likely as senior citizens ‘to be bothered by their belief that Muslims are singled out for increased government surveillance and monitoring,’ and ‘are less supportive of extra airport checks on people who appear to be of Middle Eastern descent.’”
On the other side of the spectrum, Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s progressive policy positions, many of which concur with Bernie Sanders’ mentioned positions on issues like health care, gun regulation, and college debt, mean that she has been able to attract young voters who would otherwise have voted for the Vermont Senator had he managed to win the Democratic nomination.
Moreover, her unflinching attitude towards pardoning whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning — people who are considered as public servants by a major section of millennials — coupled with Stein campaign’s driving theme of switching to cleaner energy sources, seems to have held her in good stead among these independent liberals who supported Sanders in the primary but did not have any loyalty to the Democratic Party.
There are 43 million young people locked into debt. That alone is a plurality of the vote. A #Green vote is a vote to cancel student debt. ????— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) May 30, 2016
These young voters view Clinton as a warmongering establishment politician, and even with her having clinched the Democratic nomination now, are not ready to fall in line with her. Some of the votes of these young people, it might be safe to assume, are going straight to Jill Stein.
With 16 percent support among young voters in early August, Stein could hope to make even deeper inroads in the autumn.
But more than anything, what seems to have drawn these young voters towards Gary Johnson and Jill Stein appears to be their shared and complete aversion to foreign wars. With an economy that is increasingly becoming more amicable to large corporations and a political setup which is turning into an oligarchical system with every passing election, it appears only right that these millennials believe that America’s next president should attempt to restrict the country’s role overseas and focus on the reeling domestic economic, political, and social problems.
Do you think Gary Johnson or Jill Stein stand a chance in the presidential race?
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]