With less than a week to go before the Nov. 8 election, Gary Johnson’s Libertarian camp may play spoilsport as the Republicans and Democrats battle it out to get their respective picks — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — elected president of the United States.
The Albuquerque Journal released a poll last month that showed Johnson receiving 24 percent of the vote in the state of New Mexico — where he served as governor for eight years. While Clinton is commanding a 35 percent support in the state, Trump is shown coming at 31 percent, giving the Libertarian a real shot at securing the state’s seven electoral votes in the presidential elections.
The poll reiterated the possibility thrown up by a Washington Post-Survey Monkey online poll of the state last month, which showed Johnson commanding a sizeable — almost 25 percent — of the voter share. Election website FiveThirtyEight, along with analyst Nate Silver, said it was “plausible” for New Mexico to go with Johnson on the final day, leaving Clinton and Trump in a 267-266 deadlock in the Electoral College — with 270 electoral votes required to be the president.
However, analysts maintain that this situation is unlikely. Even after the Libertarian put forward a tough fight, Clinton remains a favorite in the state. The Washington Post-Survey Monkey poll put her ahead of her Republican rival by a wider margin of 37-29.
Despite Clinton’s lead, Johnson’s influence in the state is having a detrimental effect on her numbers, with the Libertarian’s votes coming from Clinton’s share instead of Trump’s. In a two-way race, Clinton had a much wider margin over the Republican with a 14-point lead in the Post’s poll and a significant 10-point lead in the Albuquerque Journal’s poll.
According to the Post, the main reason behind the Democratic share being eaten is the support Johnson commands with the Hispanics, gaining support from 31 percent of the state's Hispanics. In the 2012 elections, Barack Obama won the Hispanic votes by a 36-point margin but Clinton leads Trump by only 22 points.
The former governor of New Mexico also remains a key player in other states like Alaska and Arizona. According to an earlier poll released by the campaign of Sen. Lisa Murkowski for Alaska, Johnson had 10 percent of the support in the state, allowing him to play the spoiler in case of a close race.
Johnson, the only third-party candidate on the ballot in all 50 states, could prove to be a game changer in the race. Although his chances of securing enough Electoral College seats are running low, he may have a significant impact on how the seats are split between the key players — Clinton and Trump.