With just under a month left in the 2016 election, it appears we have sunk to the lowest point in the race yet. Increasing numbers of top GOP party officials are either abandoning Trump or asking him to drop out of the race. The second debate strayed disappointingly far from policy issues, and instead focussed on airing the dirty laundry of both candidates. Now, more than ever, Americans seek an alternative to the two biggest options that almost seem to have been chosen for them, without their consent.
A new poll performed by the Johnson/Weld campaign displays how the current political landscape is strengthening the numbers of Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. The poll proposes questions not often asked of voters, and tests how Johnson would do in an individual matchup against both Trump and Clinton.
While the results are not exactly a measure of potential election outcomes, they are interesting and significant indicators of just how the electorate is feeling about the 2016 presidential election.
In a head-to-head contest, according to the poll, Johnson beats Trump by 4.3 percentage points, garnering 41.6 percent of responses. Compared to a head-to-head matchup against Clinton, in which Trump is trailing with 38.9 percent to Clinton's 46.4 percent (consistent with other national polls), Trump loses some support in a race against Johnson.
Clinton, on the other hand, beats Johnson by 8.5 points, 45.5 percent to 37 percent. However, the results may be of concern to the Clinton camp since the Democratic candidate has a huge advantage in both money and name recognition. With almost nonstop coverage in the 24-hour news cycle, both Clinton and Trump receive millions in free media time.
The Johnson/Weld poll found that 54.8 percent of the 800 registered voters who responded had either never heard of Gary Johnson or did not know enough about him or his running mate to form an opinion. This is consistent with many national polls.
Clinton also beats Johnson by only one percentage point more than she beats Trump in a two-person contest, suggesting that both Clinton and Trump have reached a ceiling in support based on how they individually face a third party candidate. And, as the poll shows that nearly 18 percent of respondents said they were undecided in a Johnson-Clinton matchup, Johnson would still theoretically be competitive in such a race.
Americans are faced with a tough decision in November. They are being told by the media, partisan pundits, even the President of the United States that a vote for a third party or independent candidate will only put the "greater evil" into office. They are told they only have two options even though there are more candidates in the race.
If the Johnson/Weld poll revealed anything, it is that most Americans are greatly dissatisfied with the options given to them by the Republican and Democratic parties and want a change to the status quo. However, as alternative candidates are denied entry into the national discussion, they are kept out of the public eye and thus have no opportunity to build significant momentum in a national election.
Clearly, though, even without significant name recognition, many voters are still willing to support a third party campaign like the Johnson/Weld ticket over the two most disliked and distrusted major party candidates in modern U.S. history. Only time will tell how the electorate will respond in November.