HUFFPOLLSTER: Third Party Candidates Face Substantial Challenges In The General Election

Americans don’t know them or their beliefs. Gary Johnson is a good example.
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Nearly two thirds of voters don’t know anything about Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson, which makes polling on him difficult. California Democratic primary polls are divided on whether the race will be close. And polls this year show about the same variation as they have since 2000. This is HuffPollster for Thursday, June 2, 2016.

VOTERS DON’T KNOW WHO GARY JOHNSON IS - HuffPollster: "In a presidential race between two historically disliked major party candidates, there’s a certain cachet to being merely the other guy. The leading contender to be that guy? Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. He’s the Libertarian Party nominee…[and] perhaps this year’s de facto alternative to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Recent national polls with his name thrown into the mix show him polling as high as 10 percent, pulling equally from both sides of the aisle. That’s not enough to get him into the presidential debates, let alone establish him as a serious contender…. [A]s a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows, Johnson’s relative anonymity means that he isn’t yet much different from a generic alternative, with even those voters who know who he is largely unsure about his political beliefs....22 percent consider him very or somewhat liberal, while 26 percent consider him a moderate, 30 percent believe him to be conservative and the remainder won’t even hazard a guess….And that’s among those who have even heard of Johnson, which is only about a third of those surveyed." [HuffPost]

Most pollsters aren’t asking about Johnson - HuffPollster: “A common question we’re getting at HuffPost Pollster lately is: ‘Why isn’t Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson included in your charts?’... Our decisions are based completely on how pollsters are dealing with Johnson — and that varies a lot. Fifteen pollsters conducted 25 [national] polls in the month of May….Only three pollsters of the 15 included Johnson in their polls by name...The answer to why HuffPost Pollster isn’t including Johnson in our charts should be clear at this point: We can’t include him when pollsters aren’t polling on him. Whether pollsters should be polling on Johnson, or Stein for that matter, doesn’t have an easy answer. Research from 2014 has shown that when pollsters include third-party or independent candidates, the polls overestimate those candidates’ support. But when they don’t include them, the share of the third-party or independent vote is underestimated in their polls." [HuffPost]

VOTERS WHO DON’T SUPPORT TRUMP OR CLINTON LEAN DEMOCRATIC - William Jordan: "The latest YouGov/Economist Poll finds Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump nearly tied among registered voters, 42% for Clinton and 41% for Trump. That leaves a large number of voters in a third column: Neither. These are the 17% of registered voters who instead say they are 'Not sure' or express support for a third candidate, or say they would not vote at all in a Trump-Clinton race. As YouGov’s own Kathy Frankovic pointed out last week, a large contingent of this group are Bernie Sanders supporters who, at least right now, refuse to express support for Sanders’s primary rival Hillary Clinton….What about the 'Neithers' as a whole? The analysis does make one thing clear: they really don’t like Clinton or Trump. 86%, in fact, have an unfavorable opinion of the former Secretary of State, and 84% have an unfavorable opinion of her likely general election opponent. They also have equal antipathy for both the Democratic Party (61% unfavorable) and the Republican Party (62%). But they are relatively favorable towards several Democrats included in the poll, who appear likely to endorse, and even campaign, on behalf of their party's nominee." [YouGov]

REPUBLICANS ARE FALLING IN LINE BEHIND TRUMP - Harry Enten: "[N]early a month after [Donald] Trump vanquished Ted Cruz and John Kasich from the primary race, Republican voters are rallying behind Trump as if he were any other nominee....In the last four live interview polls that broke down results by partisanship, Trump averaged 85 percent support against Hillary Clinton among respondents who identified as Republicans. Clinton won just 7 percent among GOP respondents. Trump’s share of the Republican vote at this point in the campaign is right in line with past nominees. Here’s an average of three live interview polls conducted right after each Republican nominee since 1980 wrapped up his primary by eliminating his last serious foe...Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that Republicans fell in line once Trump clinched the nomination. As the country has grown more polarized, voters have been less willing to cross party lines in presidential elections….Polarization notwithstanding, it’s at least a little amazing how quickly and easily Trump — who has bucked party orthodoxy on a range of issues — consolidated the GOP vote." [538]

How nativism is driving support for Trump - Clifford Young: "[A]t Ipsos, we believed from October 2015 that Trump’s true strength lay very simply in his anti-immigrant rhetoric. That Trump’s strong 'America first', nativist narrative resonates with the Republican base and, if toned down, could find broader popular appeal. Put differently, Trump taps into a deep fear that America’s best days are behind it; a yearning for what was; and a fear of the 'other'...across all methods, the findings are incredibly consistent—those who support Trump are much more likely to hold strong nativist and anti-immigrant beliefs, controlling for other ideological and demographic variables….Specifically, those who believe that the system is broken, the future is bleak, and the American dream is dead, all see these worries as an anti-immigrant issue—strong Trump territory and one which he has helped shape and frame….In political terms, whereas nativism was a non-issue a quarter century ago, it will increasingly play a role in the political arena for the foreseeable future." [Ipsos]


SOME CALIFORNIA POLLS SHOW A CLOSE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY RACE - David Weigel: “A trio of widely-respected polls released this week have found the Democratic primary closing to a 2-point race, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's advantage over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) narrowed by her dipping favorable rating and his rising support from independents.The latest and most closely watched of the three ‘live caller’ polls — i.e., those that rely on human interviewers to get results instead of robocalls —was the Field Poll that dropped on Wednesday night. (Polls that use automated callers find a larger Clinton lead.) Among all voters, Clinton led Sanders by a 45-43 margin…. Polls this week from the Public Policy Institute of California and NBC News/Marist found the same margin, 46-44 and 49-47 respectively. PPIC had found Clinton's lead falling by 5 points since March; for the Field Poll, it was a drop of 4 points.” [WashPost]

Clinton’s average lead is slightly larger - The HuffPost Pollster chart shows Clinton leading by 5 points, since recent SurveyUSA and YouGov polls have given her a much larger lead than the trio of live caller polls. But that’s still about a 4 point decrease since the middle of April, when she was up by an average of 9 points.

OVERALL POLLS ARE STILL WORKING LIKE THEY SHOULD - Charles Franklin: “A steady stream of articles over the past nine months has examined the challenges of the polling industry, pointing to highly visible failures, the rise of cell phones and the decline of response rates….Yet for all the claims of broken polls, little direct evidence has been provided. Yes, response rates are down but has accuracy suffered as a result? Yes, polls differ from one another, but are “wild fluctuations” more common? I’ve examined all the presidential general election polling since 2000 — which is 2,056 polls in all….There is no statistically significant difference in the variance of 2016 polling compared to that of previous years….The thing about trends is they can change. What looks like an outlier today could be the first poll picking up a shift in support. But until it is joined by other polls, together moving the trend estimate, be skeptical….To be clear, there are real challenges facing the polling industry. But there has been more rhetoric than evidence for the thesis that ‘polling is broken.’ So far, the national polls in 2016 look a great deal like those from the past four presidential elections.” [WashPost]

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THURSDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Bernie Sanders would have to win 92 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination. [NBC]

-Most millennial voters give Democrats high marks for caring about issues, but also favor some Republican principles. [WSJ]

-The economy remains a top priority for Americans. [Gallup]

-One in five Americans say they have to cut their spending to afford their rent or mortgage payment. [City Lab]

-A significant portion of Americans don't take any vacation days off. [HuffPost]

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