The first major national poll to include prospective Libertarian Party candidate Rep. Justin Amash (L-MI) appears to show Amash doing worse than 2016 Libertarian nominee Gov. Gary Johnson (L-NM), according to the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The results show Amash polling at a mere 5% in a three-way race against Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Trump polls at 40% and Biden at 47% in the same poll. By comparison, Johnson polled at 11% in Monmouth’s equivalent Spring 2016 poll, and subsequently declined in the polls as voters consolidated behind the major party nominees in the 2016 race.
Ultimately, Johnson won just 3% of the national popular vote in 2016. Although this was the highest share of the vote the Libertarian Party has ever received in a presidential election, the Johnson campaign had been internally seeking to break 5%, with polls in the days prior to the election putting Johnson at an average of 4.7% of the vote. Amash’s current polling suggests he will not outperform Johnson’s 2016 share.
Just 6% of national voters have a favorable view of Amash, as opposed to 9% of voters having a favorable view of Johnson in the Spring 2016 poll. However, Amash does benefit from slightly better unfavorability scores than Johnson, with only 13% having an unfavorable view of Amash as opposed to 15% having that view of Johnson in Spring 2016.
“Overall, there is not as much of an appetite for a third option as there was four years ago. It’s too early to tell whether Amash will have an impact but if this election ends up being as close as 2016, even a small showing can have a crucial impact,” said Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
When Amash is removed from the poll, the Biden’s lead increases by 2%. Biden’s share of the vote increases to 50%, while Trump’s increases to 41%. This suggests Amash’s entry into the race could help President Trump win re-election. However, given the electoral college used during presidential elections, it remains to be seen how Amash will affect the major party nominees in specific swing states, particularly Amash’s home state of Michigan, where Libertarian Party chairman Nicholas Sarwark has speculated Amash could help Biden.