Maxwell Carter is a freshman biomedical engineering major and Bodenhamer Fellow at the University of Arkansas. An avid follower of politics, Carter interned with the Democratic Party of Arkansas in the summer of 2015 and founded a Young Democrats chapter at his high school.
A national survey conducted by NBC News and Survey Monkey shows Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holding a six point lead over Republican candidate Donald Trump, maintaining a constant lead from the previous week. This bodes well for the Clinton campaign, and confirms a national trend showing Clinton with a fairly comfortable lead. The survey, conducted by NBC News, polled 32,226 random users nationwide on the Survey Monkey website. Clinton’s lead grows to over ten points in the Northeast and the West; in the Midwest and the South, Trump and Clinton are within a single point.
The same poll also questioned voters on their voting preferences when third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein were included. Clinton’s lead drops to four points over Trump (41 to 37 percent) as opposed to her six point lead (48 to 42 percent) when Clinton and Trump are the only given options. The Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson polled at twelve points, while the Green Party’s Jill Stein garnered four percent.
Though Clinton continues to hold a lead over Trump when third-party candidates are included, both Clinton and Trump poll at significantly lower numbers when Johnson and Stein are included; Clinton’s numbers drop by seven and Trump’s drop by five. Third-party candidates are not likely to gain any electoral votes – neither Johnson nor Stein is remotely close to winning a majority in any state. However, their strength thus far in national polling is somewhat unique in recent national elections. In 2012, Johnson garnered just less than one percent of the popular vote. Stein received less than half a percent. Though polls are no definite indication that third party candidates will perform as well in the general election, the candidates are clearly more popular than in previous elections. This change is probably a result of both candidates’ high unfavorability ratings, driving more voters to seek alternative options.
Whether third-party candidates will perform as well in the general election as they are in current polls is yet to be determined. Though it’s unlikely that they will affect the electoral map in November in a large way, current polling suggests that they will garner a significantly larger portion of the vote than in recent years. In the next two months it is unlikely that Johnson or Stein will be able to prevent Clinton from maintaining her sizable lead over Trump; however, the increase in popularity of third-party candidates between 2012 and the current election suggests that as more voters become unhappy with the political mainstream, alternative options may continue to become more popular.