Gary Johnson has been rising in the polls, and a key move among Latino voters could help him reach the all-important 15 percent threshold.
The Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate, Johnson has been aiming to be included in the presidential debates that will take place later this fall. To be included, candidates must garner at least 15 percent support in a group of five yet-to-be-named national polls selected by the Democrat and Republican-controlled Commission on Presidential Debates.
There are growing signs that he could actually reach that point, leading to the nearly unprecedented step of a third party on stage for the debates this fall.
A rising popularity among Latino voters could help Gary Johnson reach that point. Fox News Latino noted that he has already crossed the 15 percent mark among this voting bloc, an area where Republican candidate Donald Trump has performed poorly.
“According to an exclusive Fox News Latino poll released on Thursday, 16 percent of Latinos would vote for Johnson and running mate Bill Weld if the election were held today – only 1 percent less than the ticket of Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Johnson jumped seven points since May, while Trump lost four points.”
Gary Johnson could have another boost in this area, the report noted. He has garnered some key endorsements from Latino politicians and groups, including Florida Congressman Juan-Carlos Planas and former National Puerto Rican Coalition CEO Rafael Fantauzzi.
As he continues to rise in the polls, Gary Johnson could even be eyeing a handful of states where he could beat Donald Trump — or even win outright. He has performed very well in Utah, a traditionally Republican state that was one of Trump’s weakest during the Republican primary.
Trump’s personal controversies and past divorces have him performing poorly among the large bloc of Mormon voters in the state, and his hard-line stances on immigration don’t play well with a group that has traditionally traveled to other countries for mission trips and generally are more accepting of immigrants.
Gary Johnson could be working on a big endorsement that would help that happen. He told CNN last month that he’s been in discussion with Mitt Romney about officially backing the Libertarian ticket. Romney has been one of the most vocal critics of Donald Trump and is the most prominent Mormon politician, with his endorsement potentially carrying enough sway to put Johnson on top in Utah.
“I think he’s considering the possibility of doing this,” Johnson said, “of actually endorsing the two of us.”
Romney has expressed openness to the idea, especially given that Johnson’s running mate had a long relationship with Romney as both served as governor of Massachusetts.
“If Bill Weld were at the top of the ticket, it would be very easy for me to vote for Bill Weld for president,” Romney told CNN last month. “So I’ll get to know Gary Johnson better and see if he’s someone who I could end up voting for. That’s something which I’ll evaluate over the coming weeks and months.”
Gary Johnson has surged to 9.5 in the PPD poll. https://t.co/hGtoMC3R2H— Ricky Vaughn (@Ricky_Vaughn99) August 13, 2016
Johnson is already topping the 15 percent barrier in a number of important battleground states. In a new series of polls from Wall Street Journal/NBC/Marist, the Libertarian candidate reached 12 percent support in Virginia and 15 percent in Colorado, Reason noted.
The polls also showed Johnson rising in Florida and North Carolina, though still about 5 points off from the 15 percent mark.
Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party are now actively trying to rise in the polls, calling on supporters this week to pledge $15 to help their goal of reaching 15 percent by August 15. While it still seems a bit far off to reach that point within the next few days, Johnson does seem to have a legitimate chance to top the mark at some point in the coming weeks if his rise continues.
[Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP Images]