While many people focused on the news that the latest Fox News poll showed Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton nationally, one on one, for the first time, something else interesting happened in the poll.
Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson scored 10% of the polling numbers when respondents were polled on a 3 person matchup. Trump received 42% while Clinton received 39%. In the Clinton/Trump only poll, Clinton received 42% to Trump’s 45%. These numbers show that in a three way matchup, Johnson pulls support from Trump and Clinton almost equally.
In order to be invited to take place in the nationally televised presidential debates, candidates have to poll at 15% in five chosen national polls and be on the ballot in enough states to mathematically win the presidency. This election the Libertarian Party is on every single ballot in the country for the presidential election. So, Johnson just needs to gain a couple of percentage points to make it onto the stage.
From the Commission on Presidential Debates website:
Under the 2016 Criteria, in addition to being Constitutionally eligible, candidates must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority vote in the Electoral College, and have a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recently publicly-reported results at the time of the determination.
The polls that are used for that determination are as follows, ABC News/The Washington Post, NBC News/The Wall Street Journal, CBS News/The New York Times, Fox News and Gallup.
Johnson also polled in the double digits in a recent Quinnipiac University poll when included against Clinton and Trump. Johnson is also polling at 18% in his home state of New Mexico, where he served as a very popular two term governor.
Due to the historically low favorability ratings of both Trump and Clinton, there is some thought that if Johnson can make the debates and sufficiently get his name out there this election the Libertarian Party could possibly get enough votes to force the election to go to the House of Representatives (each state gets 1 vote in that situation).
Johnson also polls at over 18% with voters under the age of 35, who are more likely to have previously heard of Johnson through social media and other more modern news sources.