Gary Johnson is continuing to rise in the polls, and in doing so is gathering support to be included on stage with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at the presidential debates taking place later this fall.
The Libertarian Party is normally at the fringes of presidential elections, taking less than 1 percent of the vote in recent years and not making much of an impact on the debate of issues. But an unpopular slate of candidates from the major parties combined with the unusual level of experience from this year’s Libertarian ticket — both Gary Johnson and running mate Bill Weld are former governors — has them polling at double digits in some areas.
And for Gary Johnson, the polls are continually on the rise. As Donald Trump continues to fumble through a series of controversies and missteps, Johnson has been siphoning off his support, especially in polls of western and midwestern states. That is seen in two new Quinnipiac polls from swing states, showing Johnson approaching the low teens in support.
“Colorado – Clinton leads Trump 41 – 33 percent, with 16 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson and 7 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein;
“Iowa – Clinton at 41 percent to Trump’s 39 percent, with Johnson at 12 percent and Stein at 3 percent;
“Virginia – Clinton tops Trump 45 – 34 percent with 11 percent for Johnson and 5 percent for Stein.”
And Gary Johnson is polling particularly well among some demographics, Hot Air noted. In Colorado, Johnson is 11 points up on Donald Trump among voters aged 18-34.
“Western Republicans have always trended a bit more libertarian than their southern counterparts; you’re seeing that in an amazingly stark way here, especially among younger voters,” the report noted. “I think there’s a very small but nonzero chance, if Trump continues to fade nationally and if some young progressives switch from Stein to Johnson, that Johnson could actually pass Trump in Colorado (and maybe Utah), especially if he manages to make it into the debates.”
The report noted it is unlikely that Gary Johnson would make it into the debates, but he seems to have growing support in this area as well. To be included in the fall debates, a candidate must poll above 15 percent in an average of five polls selected by the bipartisan controlled Commission on Presidential Debates — those polls being from ABC/Washington Post, NBC/Wall Street Journal, CBS/New York Times, CNN, and Fox News.
Though he has continued to improve his position in the polls, especially among younger voters, Gary Johnson still has quite a bit of room to make up before he reaches the 15 percent threshold. In an aggregate of polls from the Huffington Post‘s Pollster, Johnson is averaging just under 9 percent nationally. With another 9 percent undecided, Johnson would need to take either a big chunk of that group or steal more voters from either Clinton or Trump.
His standing is a bit better among the polls selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates, the Washington Post noted, with Johnson standing at 11 percent among this group. But he has also started to gain support among many politicians and pundits, who are calling for the inclusion of the Libertarian Party in the debates.
Gary Johnson "Making Major Inroads With Latino Voters." Voters increasingly reject "binary choice" of Clinton/Trump. https://t.co/LfEVAzwuOn— Libertarian Party (@LPNational) August 18, 2016
TheWashington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin is one of those supporters, writing that Johnson would be able to present ideas to American voters that don’t fall within either the Republican or Democratic parties. Support for Johnson has also grown significantly online, where his young voter base has been vocal in support of his inclusion in debates.
But despite the support, Gary Johnson still has a lot of work in the polls before he can reach the threshold. He would need to roughly double his support in many areas, and the pool of undecided voters is shrinking continually as November approaches.
[Photo by John Raoux/AP Images]