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Gary Johnson Survives Hillary Bounce; Still Having Tough Time Convincing Conservatives

Libertarian nominee pulling around 9%, but losing out to Hillary Clinton among Republicans and conservatives

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Having the time of his life. ||| Matt Welch
Matt Welch

As he heads into a second CNN prime-time town hall discussion tonight with running-mate William Weld, Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson is maintaining his poll support in the wake of last week's Democratic National Convention. There have been five national presidential polls conducted since the conclusion of the DNC; all five have included Johnson, and three have included presumptive Green Party nominee Jill Stein. Here is what they have found:

HC 41% DT 36% GJ 8% JS 4% July 30-Aug. 1, Economist/YouGov

HC 45% DT 37% GJ 9% JS 5% July 29-31, CNN/ORC

HC 43% DT 38% GJ 10%, July 29-31, CBS News

HC 41% DT 36% GJ 11%, July 29-30, Morning Consult

HC 46% DT 41% GJ 6% JS 2%, July 29-30, PPP

(Note that Morning Consult surveys are not collated by the ever-useful RealClearPolitics polling average.)

It is the nature of cross-tabs-squinting and life on the political margins that the best news above may be the polls where Johnson is scoring the lowest. Why? Because they represent all-time highs in both surveys, and we are at a point in the race now where apples-to-apples comparisons across the same polling outfit may tell us the most about trajectories. For instance, here's Economist/YouGov over the past month:

HC 41% DT 36% GJ 8% JS 4%, July 30-Aug. 1

HC 40% DT 38% GJ 5% JS 3%, July 23-24

HC 40% DT 37% GJ 5% JS 4%, July 15-17

HC 40% DT 37% GJ 5% JS 2%, July 9-11

HC 42% DT 37% GJ 4% JS 3%, July 2-4

Similarly, PPP has shown a steady if modest progression for Johnson, from 4 percent (May 6-9) to 5 percent (June 27-28) to this week's 6 percent.

In the other direction, the CNN/ORC number is down from a high of 13 percent in mid-July; the last four percentages there have been 9-9-13-9, suggesting a bit of an outlier. And both CBS News and Morning Consult, which have not been including Jill Stein in their surveys, have consistently measured Johnson at either 10, 11, or 12 percent.

Looking into the breakout numbers two things jump out:

1) Gary Johnson is edging out Donald Trump among nonwhites. In the CNN/ORC poll, nonwhites go 70 percent for Clinton, 8 percent each for Johnson and Stein, 7 percent for Donald Trump. Black voters double up for Johnson and Stein over Trump in PPP (4%-4%-2%), and tie Johnson with Trump in Economist/YouGov (5 percent each, with Stein at 2). Still, the biggest shocker is…

2) Hillary Clinton is thumping Gary Johnson among conservatives. The CNN/ORC poll is brutal on this score, with Clinton nabbing 21 percent of cons versus just 8 percent for Johnson. She also ekes out narrower victories among Republicans in both CNN/ORC and CBS News.

So even though the Libertarian ticket is made up of two former Republican governors, even though Republicans (or former Republicans) have formed the bulk of Johnson's endorsements to date, and even though yesterday saw the announcement of a new group called Republicans for Johnson-Weld, the Libertarians are having a hard time sealing the deal with disaffected members of the Party of Trump. Meanwhile, Johnson remains competitive for the affections of Bernie Sanders voters. This election gets curiouser and curiouser.