by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Third-party and independent candidates are poised to have a significant impact on the 2016 presidential election, where the unpopularity of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump have left many voters looking for another option on the November ballot.
Polls show Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson garnering as much as 12 percent of the vote nationally, while Green Party candidate Jill Stein is polling as high as 5 percent among U.S. voters.
“This year, the third-party candidates have more potential than usual because of the high negative ratings of both major-party candidates,” Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus Research Group, a nonpartisan polling firm, told the Washington Examiner. …
… [O]nly former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee, is expected to be on the ballot in all 50 states, posing the greatest threat to Trump.
Green Party nominee Jill Stein, who would likely siphon Clinton’s support, is petitioning to be included on the ballot in 47 states and has encouraged supporters to write in her name in the remaining three states. …
… Johnson received 10 percent to 12 percent in four polls this month, and is within reach of the 15 percent needed to be included in the upcoming presidential debates, which Johnson said is critical to his candidacy.
Pollsters believe Johnson could reach that number, particularly if Trump continues to veer off message as he did on Tuesday, when he drew criticism for making a veiled suggesting that Clinton could be targeted by “Second Amendment people,” for her stance on gun control.
“I think it’s possible,” Johnson could end up in the presidential debates, Faucheux said.