GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – In what has already been a bizarre year for politics, third party candidates could play a big role in November’s presidential election.
With distrust and dislike of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, some voters are turning to other alternatives when it comes time to cast ballots.
The Libertarian candidate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, is polling well in some states, taking enough voters away from the two main parties to possibly impact which candidate wins.
“I think your typical Republican who’s turned off by Trump would find it a lot more palatable to vote for the Libertarian,” said Tom Eamon, a political science professor at ECU. He said it is still to be determined whether third party candidates take more potential votes away from the Democrats or Republicans.
According to recent polls, Johnson carried a larger percentage of voters, 3 percent, than what separated Clinton and Trump, who held a slim lead in North Carolina.
CBS News shows Trump with 32 percent of voters, Clinton with 39 percent, and Johnson with 11. Real Clear Politics reports Trump holds 35.5 percent, Clinton with 40.9%, and Johnson with 8.5%.
Eamon said the last time a third party candidate truly had a huge impact on the election was Ross Perot in 1992, who potentially cost George H.W. Bush the election against challenger Bill Clinton.
In a statement, Dallas Woodhouse with the NCGOP said, “We at the Republican Party believe in fighting for every vote. Third party candidates have to earn support just like our candidates do. We also believe that democrat candidates Hillary Clinton, Roy Cooper and Deborah Ross are so liberal they will lose lots of Eastern North Carolina registered democrat voters to the GOP and some to third parties/independent candidates resulting in a net pick up for us.”
Dave Miranda with the NC Democractic Party said, “Donald Trump is such a terrible candidate for president, it’s no surprise many Republicans are looking to third-party candidates as an alternative. Trump’s history as a racist, sexist, failed businessman and con artist will lead some Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton, some to vote for a third party and many Republicans will stay home on Election Day. Meanwhile, the Democratic party has great candidates, a great team in place and dozens of field staff already on the ground working hard to elect Democrats up and down the ballot. Our team will continue to grow as we talk to voters throughout the state, and in November we’ll get our vote out and win.”