The Libertarian Party is the largest political party behind the Republican and Democratic Party. The real struggle for a minor party is folded many ways. Ballot access, media time, money, debate access, etc.
This might all change in the 2016 Presidential Election in part to the discomfort that many Americans are feeling in the prospect of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump being the apparent choices of the two major political parties.
In a new Monmouth University Poll conducted of likely voters in the United States the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson (former Governor of New Mexico) receives 11% of the vote when pitted against Clinton and Trump. Although this might not seem like a large percentage of the vote, for a third party in the United States this means a great deal.
It appears that Governor Johnson pulls votes from both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Many Republicans will try to use this poll as an argument against Johnson and how he is potentially spoiling the election by splitting the Republican vote, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Polling at this percentage also has other advantages as well. As of right now the threshold to gain access to the main Presidential debates requires polling at 15%. According to Gary Johnson a third party candidate will never gain viability with the American people unless they can participate in the national Presidential debates.
“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 independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “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.”
As for the Libertarian Party this is a momentous occasion. As the largest third party the Libertarian’s have had difficulty spreading their message to the mainstream, and this poll shows that they might have the opportunity to get that message out to the American people.