God, is there anyone running for president who's worse than Donald Trump? As it turns out, yeah.
A new online NBC/SurveyMonkey poll of 11,000 people who say they're registered to vote (yes, yes, caveats apply!) showed that the awful billionaire is basically neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton and that he fares better against the former senator and secretary of state than the Republican establishment's new boyfriend, Ted Cruz.
When Cruz is pitted against Clinton, he pulls just 32 percent against her 37 percent.
For me, the biggest silver lining in this dark cloud of an election is the interest in third parties, which I read as "The Libertarian Party" (LP) since it's the only alternative that will be on the ballot in all 50 states and whose 2012 candidate pulled over 1 million votes and around 1 percent of all ballots cast four years ago.
The NBC/SurveyMonkey results show consistent double-digit interest in voting third party due to the folks at the top of the major-party tickets. The poll asks who Trump and Cruz supporters will vote for if their guy doesn't get the GOP nom, and in either case about one-quarter say they'll go for a third party.
As I suggested yesterday in a conversation with WBT's Keith Larson (listen here!), if the LP pulls even in the high single digits in the general election, it will have a major influence on how each major party reconstitutes itself after this election. Yes, the Democrat or the Republican will win in November but unless Clinton and Cruz or Trump all get personality transplants between now and the, we're going to see a winner with less than 50 percent of all votes.
Because it can appeal to both conventional liberals and conservatives (read: Democrats and Republicans), the LP will become a natural place for the major parties to turn to woo new voters. Libertarian voters (whether registered in the party or not) are the easiest goddamn voters to win every time: Just be socially liberal and fiscally conservative in your policies and attitudes; shrink the size, scope, and spending of government by getting it out of the boardroom and the bedroom; be against elective war and pot prohibition, for immigrants and marriage equality (or getting the government out of such things), and argue that the the government should do fewer things better. As each party drives toward the low-20s in terms of voter identification, they should be looking to see how they can placate the vast and growing libertarian middle without alienating their own wingnuts.
FFS, major-party types! The Libertarian Moment is so fricking over that libertarians are now the single-largest ideological bloc in the country, according to Gallup. We're not coy. If you tack in our direction, you'll pick up more and more votes and the only cost will be that once you're in power, you'll have less power to wield. That's a bargain we can all live with, isn't it?