Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson is steadily losing support as election day gets closer, despite having had a good run for a third-party candidate.
Johnson, along with Green Party nominee Jill Stein, have attracted more attention among voters compared to other third-party campaigns in recent presidential elections, including their 2012 bids.
Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, has been especially popular among millennials. The demographic usually leans Democrat, but in this election millennials are having trouble supporting the party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton.
However, rocky points in Johnson’s campaign, like his gaffes on foreign policy and Clinton surrogates’ wooing of millennials, are hurting him in the polls.
Both President Barack Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have told voters in recent weeks that casting a ballot for Johnson is a vote for Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“If you vote for a third-party candidate, who’s got no chance to win, that’s a vote for Trump,” Obama said in an interview on Sept. 28 in an attempt to sway voters to the Democratic side, especially young Americans.
“A vote for Johnson may satisfy the desire to express oneself politically, but it will not directly help the election of the next president. Either Clinton or Trump will be the next president. There is virtually no chance that Johnson will win even a single electoral vote,” said James Campbell, distinguished professor of political science at SUNY Buffalo and author of “Polarized: Making Sense of a Divided America,” in an email interview.
As the elections approach, support for Johnson has decreased. The former governor had 13 percent support among registered voters in July, but October polls show him at 7 percent, according to the latest CNN/ORC poll.
Johnson’s recent gaffes might have also contributed to this loss of support.
He was ridiculed for his “What is Aleppo?” answer when asked about the Syrian city during an MSNBC interview in September. Johnson then failed to name a foreign leader he admired at an MSNBC town hall and cited his previous blunder saying, “I’m having an Aleppo moment.” Most recently, Johnson refused to name North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, when prompted by a New York Times interviewer.
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 28, 2016
“My guess is that it hurts Johnson a bit,” said Campbell about Johnson’s gaffes. “His standing in the polls is now about 7 percentage points. I suspect that he will receive less than 2 percent of the vote and quite probably less than 1 percent.”