Capitalizing on an election cycle in which the major-party candidates have record-high unfavorability ratings, Libertarian party candidate Gary Johnson is getting an unprecedented amount of attention and support in polls this year. While Johnson is averaging around 9 percent in national polls, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average, he's actually ahead of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump among a certain demographic — at least according to one online survey. Veterans prefer Johnson, along with active-duty military members, perhaps suggesting this demographic is drawn to the Libertarian candidate's non-interventionist foreign policy.
The online survey included responses from 1,399 people affiliated with the military and was conducted by a number of military groups and personalities, including Doctrine Man and We Are The Mighty using SurveyMonkey. It found 37 percent of respondents in support of Johnson, while Trump garnered 30 percent and Clinton received 24 percent. Though it's only one online survey, its results are similar to those of a survey performed by Doctrine Man among the same demographic in July, which found Johnson at 38.7 percent, Trump at 30.9 percent, and Clinton at 14.1 percent.
Foreign policy, an issue that military members and their families are likely to prioritize, is one significant area in which Johnson stands out from either major-party candidate. Johnson wants to reduce the military budget by 20 percent and avoid sending troops to other countries unless they strike the United States first. He's critical of military interventions in Iraq and Syria, and believes that our "meddling in the affairs of other nations" (as it states on his campaign website) has contributed to the rise of ISIS. Johnson is also opposed to the use of drones abroad.
Comparatively, Clinton and Trump are arguably more hawkish. Clinton voted for the Iraq War as senator and supported military interventions in Syria, Libya, and Honduras as secretary of state. Trump is harder to nail down on foreign policy; he has spoken in opposition to the interventions in Libya, Iraq, and Syria, but recently promised that he would expand the military. That, along with his general tough-guy talk on enemies, suggests a strong willingness to engage in conflict.
Perhaps it is not a surprise that the Americans most directly impacted by the decision to go to war would tend to favor a candidate who supports a non-interventionist foreign policy. They are the very people who, in the event such foreign interventions occur, would be risking and sacrificing the most. Though there are only two polls to go off, they suggest Johnson's got the edge among military members, vets, and their families — and I would venture his foreign policy is probably a big part of the reason why.