Will Gary Johnson Take Millennial Votes Away From Donald Trump?
For decades and decades, there have only been two political parties with any realistic shot at winning the White House: the Democrats, and the Republicans. Simply put, without a D or an R next to your name, you're out of luck, the Green Party, the Reform Party, and the Libertarian Party be damned. But this election season, even though he has no real chance of winning, a certain former governor of New Mexico is demonstrating just how big a problem the GOP seems to have with millennials ― Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson is actually beating Republican presumptive nominee Donald J. Trump among them, according to a new poll.
According to the new numbers from the Pew Research Center, Johnson is polling at a whopping 22 percent among millennial voters under 30, which is a striking number relative to his overall popularity ― the Libertarian Johnson/Weld ticket (with former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld slotted in as vice president) is currently polling at about 11 points nationally. By comparison, the Pew poll placed Trump at just 21 percent, a full point behind Johnson. In a race to somehow cobble together a workable coalition of voters ahead of November, suffice to say that's not the kind of number a major party candidates wants to see.
Obviously, Johnson's slim advantage is well within the margin of error, but it's still pretty striking. It's not as though the Republican Party has ever tried to sell itself as the party of young voters (although their full presidential primary field was a relative fount of youth compared to the Democratic side), but still, the idea that they might be scrapping and clawing for young voters against a third-party candidate is not exactly great news. For anyone but Hillary Clinton, that is ― she currently enjoys a huge advantage over Trump with young voters.
There's some reason to be skeptical about third-party polling numbers, however, as Aaron Blake of the Washington Post pointed out on Saturday ― when it comes time to actually cast a vote in the general election, third-party options often under-perform. The logical conclusion is that people are more likely to break from their ideal candidate and vote for someone who might conceivably win when the big day finally rolls around ― the classic "lesser of two evils" conundrum.
However, owing in a big way to many Republicans' disgust with their own nominee, it's also true the Libertarian ticket is enjoying a very rare moment these past few weeks. Johnson and Weld have been hovering around double-digits in three-way general election polling, and no third-party ticket has reached double-digits since Perot/Stockdale finished with 18 percent in 1992. Johnson badly needs to gain an extra four percent or so, however, because that's the level at which he could be eligible for the sure-to-be-epic presidential debates starting in September.
The latest Pew numbers also carried some other ominous signs for Trump, weaknesses he has to turn around in the next few months if he wants any statistically favorable shot at winning the White House. He's also losing to Hillary Clinton among black voters by ― wait for it ― 91 to 7. That's a pretty eye-popping figure, although admittedly, it's not all that different from how things went the last time around. In 2012, in the race between incumbent Democratic president Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Obama ultimately prevailed with 93 percent of black voters.
Trump's also getting dusted among women by 59 percent to 35 percent, too, while only winning men by 49 to 43. In other words, if you're Gary Johnson or Hillary Clinton right now, you're probably licking your chops ― there could end up being enough anti-Trump votes to make everyone else look good this campaign season.