By Mark Wachtler
March 28, 2016. West Long Branch, NJ. (ONN) 2012 Libertarian Presidential nominee Gary Johnson made news this weekend when Monmouth University released the results of its latest poll. Johnson, a former Governor and the current frontrunner for the 2016 Libertarian nomination, is registering 11 percent nationally against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And in a major surprise, it was Democrat Bernie Sanders who was left off the poll rather than the third party candidate.
Libertarian Gary Johnson is already registering 11% in national polls.
The Monmouth University Presidential poll (view here) looked at the 2016 General Election a number of ways. One might think it came from the DNC or the Clinton campaign because various survey configurations include Republicans Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, and even Libertarian Gary Johnson. The one candidate completely missing from the match-ups is Democrat Bernie Sanders. That’s quite a snub considering the independent Vermont Senator has won 5 of the last 6 primaries and caucuses, including a three-state landslide sweep this weekend.
According to the Monmouth poll, in a two-person match-up between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the results were:
Hillary Clinton – 48%
Donald Trump – 38%
Looking at the results of all the two-person match-ups featuring Hillary Clinton and the three remaining Republican candidates, Clinton beats both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Only Ohio Governor John Kasich comes out ahead of Clinton in a two-way race, beating her by 6 points 45-39 percent.
When the poll included a third candidate – Libertarian Gary Johnson – the results were:
Hillary Clinton – 42%
Donald Trump – 34%
Gary Johnson – 11%
The Johnson campaign must be ecstatic this morning over those results. In 2012, Gary Johnson received just over 1 million votes, earning him 1% of the overall Presidential vote. While he registered much higher in pre-election polls then as well, Johnson rarely approached double digits until just prior to the November General Election. The candidate’s supporters must be energized seeing such a high poll number so early in the process.
Looking at the Numbers
A deeper look at the Monmouth University poll results reveals some interesting tidbits. For one, Gary Johnson’s candidacy takes more votes from Democrat Hillary Clinton than Republican Donald Trump. Clinton loses 6% of her voters while Trump only loses 4%. Countering that however, the pollsters reveal that Johnson did better in red states than in blue states.
If there is a disappointing part for the Johnson campaign, it’s the candidate’s favorability rating. Results show that among voters who are familiar with Gary Johnson, less than half would vote for him over either Clinton or Trump. Suggesting the Libertarian would benefit from protest votes however, he receives 11% of the vote even though he only has a 9% favorable rating, compared to a 16% unfavorable rating. 76% said they weren’t familiar enough with Johnson to have an opinion either way.
Gary Johnson responds
Ceasing on his surprisingly strong poll numbers, Gary Johnson was quick to comment after the results were announced. “2016 could very well be the year when American voters recognize that there are more than just two choices for President,” Johnson said, “The fact that we are in double digits before the General Election campaign has even begun is a strong signal that voters are finally ready to challenge the premise that their President must be either a Republican or a Democrat.”
The Libertarian Presidential candidate went on to say, “Polls across the board are showing that the real plurality of American voters are independent, and are clearly not comfortable with either the likely Republican or Democrat nominee. The door is open for a credible advocate of smaller government and greater freedom.”
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