Third party candidates are battling in the polls for a chance at the coveted 5 percent national vote. Although national polls can give you an idea of how they’ll do, it’s also interesting to see how they’re ranking on a state-by-state basis in battleground states. Right now, Gary Johnson looks like he might have the best shot at getting 5 percent of the vote, while Jill Stein is trailing and will have a tougher time. Evan McMullin is running independent, but he might be a spoiler in Johnson’s chances of reaching 5 percent.
Reaching 5 percent is important for third-party candidates. Any candidate who gets 5 percent of the vote in a general election qualifies for a general election grant of $20,000,000 from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. The two major parties turned down that grant this year, because it comes with restrictions. Candidates themselves can’t raise any other funds during the general election period if they take these funds. And the general election limit for publicly funded candidates was just a little over $96,000,000 in 2016.
Right now, Gary Johnson is averaging between 4 and 6 percent in national polls and Jill Stein is averaging closer to 1 to 2 percent in national polls. In 2012, Johnson was averaging at 5.1 percent before the election, when he only received 1 percent of the vote total. So the current numbers aren’t leaving people very hopeful as far as his chances at reaching 5 percent. And Jill Stein’s chances are even less than that.
But when you look at how they’re polling in individual battleground states, Johnson’s results bring a little more hope. Here’s how Johnson and Stein are polling in battleground states, where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are polling closely, according to RealClear Politics.
Arizona gives Johnson an average of 5 percent and Stein an average of 1.8 percent. But in an NBC/WSJ/Marist poll for October 30 through November 1, Johnson is polling at a whopping 9 percent, compared to Trump at 45 percent and Clinton at 40 percent, with Stein polling at 3 percent.
Colorado is also a strong state for Johnson, and Stein is included in those polls too. On average, Johnson polls at 6.1 percent and Stein polls at 3.1 percent. Johnson’s highest poll is at 8 percent, in the Emerson poll, with Stein at 4 percent, Clinton at 44 percent and Trump at 41 percent.
Polls for Johnson just in Florida have him ranging from 2 percent to 3 percent, averaging 2.4 percent. Stein is polling at 1.3 percent. Trump is averaging 46.2 percent and Clinton is averaging 47.4 percent.
Georgia polls give Johnson 4.6 percent, and Stein isn’t included in these polls. His polls range from 8 percent in NBC/WSJ/Marist down to 2 percent in Emerson. Trump’s average is 48.4 percent and Clinton’s is 43.8 percent.
Johnson’s polling an average of 4.7 percent in Iowa, with Stein polling at 2.7 percent. Trump’s at 44.3 and Clinton is at 41.3 percent.
Johnson’s polling in Maine is pretty high. He’s averaging 7 percent, with a poll of 5 percent in Emerson and 9 percent via MPRC. Clinton has 44 percent and Trump has 39.5 percent, on average. Stein is polling at 2.5 percent on average.
The battleground state of Michigan places Johnson at an average of 5 percent and Stein at 1.5 percent. Clinton’s holding at 45 percent and Trump is at 41 percent.
In Minnesota, Johnson is averaging at 5 percent and Stein is at 1.7 percent. These polls were last taken on October 25.
Missouri gives Johnson an average polling of 4 percent and Stein 1.5 percent. Trump is leading strongly in this state compared to Clinton. The last poll in the set was completed on November 1 (Remington Research), and gave Johnson a 4 percent polling.
Nevada’s polls only looked at Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson and did not include Stein. Johnson is averaging 4 percent here, so he didn’t get a significant bump from not including Stein.
In New Hampshire, Johnson is polling on average at 6.2 percent. But his highest polling in all the battleground states is found here, from a WBUR/MassINC poll where he’s ranking at 10 percent, compared to Trump at 40 percent and Clinton at 39 percent. Stein is polling 3 percent in this poll, bringing in 2 percent on average for New Hampshire.
In North Carolina polls Johnson hovers between 2 and 3 percent, averaging 2.8 percent. Stein is not included in these polls.
In Ohio, Johnson is polling between 3 and 6 percent, with an average of 4.7 percent. Stein is polling at an average of 1.5 percent.
Pennsylvania finds him between 2 and 7 percent, with Stein included in the poll. Johnson averages at 3.2 percent and Stein averages at 1.6 percent. Morning Call gives him 7 percent, a higher polling than any other Pennsylvania poll. In that poll, Stein is at 2 percent, Clinton 44 percent, and Trump 40 percent.
In Virginia, Johnson is pulling an average of 4.2 percent and Stein is bringing an average of 1.5 percent.
In Wisconsin, Johnson polls at 6 percent, ranging from 4 percent all the way up to 9 percent in the Emerson poll. Stein is polling at 2 percent here, ranging from 1 percent in the Emerson poll up to 3 percent.
The Bottom Line: Gary Johnson Has the Best Chance at 5 Percent
The bottom line is that right now, Johnson has the best chance of all the third-party candidates of getting 5 percent of the vote. He had an even better chance in August, when he was rating around 9 percent of the vote. As of late October, FiveThirtyEight was predicting Johnson would get about 5.6 percent of the national vote. That’s still enough to get the coveted 5 percent, but it’s a very slim margin when you also consider the possibility of errors.