The talk of a third party challenge in the 2016 election started to heat up once Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination for President. With that talk comes the comments from Republicans that a third party challenge, specifically one by the Libertarian Party, will pull votes away from Donald Trump and secure the election for Hillary Clinton.
The Public Policy Polling Company released a new poll today that shows Governor Gary Johnson polling at 4% nationally against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. While that number is low (we think it is higher, and will be higher as voters learn about him) there is an interesting tidbit within this new poll. Governor Johnson is not pulling more votes than Donald Trump, but rather he is pulling more from Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton leads Trump 42-38, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 4% and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 2%. In a match up just between Clinton and Trump, her lead expands to 47-41. That’s because supporters of Johnson and Stein would prefer her over Trump 36-18. Although there’s been a lot of talk about third party candidates drawing support away from Trump, they’re actually taking a little bit more from Clinton at this point.
This new data counters the arguments that Republicans will try to make that a Libertarian will draw away votes from Trump and get Clinton elected.
The unique nature of the Libertarian, and especially Gary Johnson, is their ability to draw from both sides. If a third party candidate is to be viable in any election they have to pull from both the Republicans and the Democrats. They can’t just pull from one party and splinter that in two.
The Libertarian Party has the ability to give both Democrats and Republicans something they both like. The fiscal conservatism of the Republican’s and the social liberalism of the Democrats put the Libertarians in the position to benefit from the dissatisfaction voters in both parties are feeling right now.