Libertarian Gary Johnson is drawing a whopping 16 percent in support from Colorado voters — higher than in other battleground states like Iowa and Virginia, according to new polling from Quinnipiac University.
Johnson is a former Republican governor of New Mexico who is running with William Weld, a former Republican governor of Massachusetts.
For comparison, Johnson is earning 12 percent support in Iowa and 11 percent in Virginia, according to the Quinnipiac poll.
There are about 35,000 registered Libertarian voters in Colorado, the state where the Libertarian Party was formed in the early 1970s.
But Lilly Tang Williams, the Libertarian Party’s nominee for U.S. Senate in Colorado who supports Johnson, points out that the largest voting block in the state, more than 1.3 million voters, are unaffiliated with a political party.
“I think they are really open to a third viable option right now,” she told The Colorado Independent. “I’m hoping that I can ride the wave of Gary Johnson’s ticket and ask people to give me a chance, to check me out.”
With this year’s presidential matchup between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, plenty of voters, particularly millennials, have been telling reporters covering the race that they are dissatisfied with the choices.
The election, a 31-year-old mother of two from Fort Collins, recently told The Washington Post, “feels like a joke.”
Meanwhile, Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for president, is registering at 7 percent of support in Colorado, according to the Q poll.
Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Q poll, says while Johnson is above 15 percent in Colorado, the big question is whether he can crack that threshold nationally and get into that debates, which will make or break his candidacy.
As for why he might be polling so high in Colorado, Brown says, “It probably has more to do with the fact that Mr. Trump is not running well as Republicans normally run. That’s probably helping Mr. Johnson. It may say as much about Mr. Trump as Mr. Johnson.”
Colorado, it should be noted, is a state where marijuana is legal, and Johnson has ties to a marijuana company and has been involved in legalization efforts. He has an A+ rating from the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group. Clinton and Trump have B+ and C+ ratings respectively.
“I bet if you and I were to stroll through a suburban shopping mall in Lorain, Ohio or Brandon, Florida or Valley Fords, Pennsylvania— i.e. states that are big deal states, that are up for grabs to some degree— my guess is most voters don’t have a clue what Mr. Johnson is for or against,” Brown told The Independent. “It may be true that those who favor legal marijuana are aware of it, but Joe and Jill six pack I’m guessing… we haven’t polled on this… around the country are not aware of that. And then the question is would it help or hurt his candidacy.”
In Colorado, Williams, the Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate, hopes more news coverage of third party candidates this year will grab the general public’s attention.
“The media should take leadership this year for [covering] third party candidates,” Williams says. “This year people are fed up on both sides.”
Quinnipiac University surveyed 830 likely Colorado voters from Aug. 9 to Aug. 16 with live interviewer calls to landlines and cell phones. The results have a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons on Flickr.