Election 2016

Libertarian Gary Johnson Could Pull Support From Both Clinton and Trump

The Libertarian Party candidate got double digit support in a new poll, pulling hypothetical voters from both the Trump and Clinton camps.


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A new national poll from Monmouth University explores how things would shake out in a three-way contest between Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and libertarian hopeful Gary Johnson. While support for Clinton and Trump far outpaces love for the Libertarian Party (LP) candidate, Johnson did wind up polling in the double-digits, with support pulled from both the Trump and Clinton camps. 

In a hypothetical two-way race between Clinton and Trump race, 48 percent of poll respondents chose Clinton and 38 percent chose Trump. But enter Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico (as a Republican) and the current frontrunner among LP presidential candidates. With Johnson in the mix, Clinton earned just 42 percent of the hypothetical vote and Trump just 34 percent.

Johnson, meanwhile, was the top choice for 11 percent of those polled. His highest vote share came from Republican-leaning states.  

Neither Clinton nor Trump were rated terribly favorably, with just 30 percent of respondents reporting favorable feelings for Trump and 60 percent viewing him unfavorably. Clinton was viewed a little better overall, with 40 percent rating her favorably and 51 percent rating her unfavorably. Johnson was viewed slightly more unfavorably (15 percent) than favorably (9 percent), but the biggest proportion of respondents said they didn't know enough about him to form an opinion. 

"A vigorous third party campaign is a very real possibility this year, but it is not yet clear what the impact could be," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, in a statement. "Including Johnson's name in our polling seems to be more of a placeholder for voters who are not particularly thrilled with either major party choice right now." 

The poll of 1,008 American adults was conducted March 17-20, 2016.