Third Party Candidates Polling Competitively Against Trump (Should Bernie Run Third Party?)

Trump Tie Young Voters

Polling during the primary battle made it very clear that if the Democratic nomination was determined by voters under the age of forty-five, Bernie Sanders would have won by a considerable margin. Republicans are facing a generation gap of their own–one which might even affect them this year. The Washington Post points out that Trump could even wind up behind Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson:

An interesting nugget from the big new Pew Research Center poll of the 2016 election: Among voters under age 30, Donald Trump is at 21 percent … and Gary Johnson is at 22 percent.

Yes, Trump is in danger of finishing third among young voters — at least according to this one poll. But it’s not the only one showing him struggling with them.

Similarly, a Quinnipiac University poll last week showed Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, and Jill Stein, the presumptive Green Party nominee, combining to take slightly more millennials (defined as ages 18 to 34 in this case) than Trump.

They combined for 22 percent, while Trump was again at 21. (Stein wasn’t an option in the Pew poll.)

Suffolk University also showed Johnson carving off a significant portion of young voters (18 to 34), at 15 percent, to Trump’s 27 percent.

(The Washington Post also had a recent article describing Gary Johnson’s views.)

On the one hand, third party candidates often do better in polls than in the final election results, but on the other hand we have not had candidates this terrible before, and support for the major political parties is at a record low. While the above polls show Trump losing support to third party candidates, overall it appears that the third party candidates might hurt Clinton slightly more than Trump:

FiveThirtyEight has a good breakdown of just where Johnson’s support is drawn from — and how it might actually come more from Clinton. Harry Enten writes:

“The majority of pollsters (12) have Clinton’s margin over Trump shrinking when at least one third-party candidate is included. The difference in margins, however, varies among pollsters, and a few, such as Ipsos, have Clinton’s lead rising by the tiniest of bits when at least Johnson is included. Overall, including third-party candidates takes about 1 percentage point away from Clinton’s margin, on average.”

But it’s also true that young people are a much friendlier demographic for third-party candidates. They are more likely to identify as independents and supporters of third parties, and it’s no coincidence that they have led the way for politicians like Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders in recent years.

Young people also happen to be among the most resistant to both Trump and Clinton. Post-ABC polling shows about 6 in 10 don’t like Clinton and 75 percent don’t like Trump. Both are the highest among any age group.

All of this makes me wonder how Bernie Sanders might do if he were to accept the offer from Jill Stein to replace her as the Green Party candidate.

In a related story, The Washington Post also noted the effects of race and demographics will have over the next four decades. Donald Trump’s racism and xenophobia is not doing the Republican Party any favors. Between these demographic changes and the lack of support among young voters, it is possible that either the major parties will change, or we will see the emergence of a new political party which counters the authoritarian right views of both Clinton and Trump. Sanders, Stein, and Johnson all differ substantially from Clinton and Trump on issues including foreign policy, civil liberties, and the drug war.

Among the young voters who oppose Trump are the students at Wharton, which Trump attended. Here is the beginning of an open letter from students, alumni, and faculty at Wharton:

Dear Mr. Trump:

At the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, students are taught to represent the highest levels of respect and integrity. We are taught to embrace humility and diversity. We can understand why, in seeking America’s highest office, you have used your degree from Wharton to promote and lend legitimacy to your candidacy.

As a candidate for President, and now as the presumptive GOP nominee, you have been afforded a transformative opportunity to be a leader on national and international stages and to make the Wharton community even prouder of our school and values.

However, we have been deeply disappointed in your candidacy.

We, proud students, alumni, and faculty of Wharton, are outraged that an affiliation with our school is being used to legitimize prejudice and intolerance. Although we do not aim to make any political endorsements with this letter, we do express our unequivocal stance against the xenophobia, sexism, racism, and other forms of bigotry that you have actively and implicitly endorsed in your campaign…

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