Faced with Trump and Clinton, Americans
yearn for third choice: Reuters/Ipsos poll
Send a link to a friend
[July 09, 2016]
By Chris Kahn
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Americans' demand for
an alternative to the two main presidential candidates has surged since
the last election, a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll shows, underscoring the
unpopularity of Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Based on 2,153 interviews, Friday's poll results suggest a strong
potential for a third-party candidate - like Gary Johnson of the
Libertarian Party or Jill Stein of the Green Party - to take enough of
the vote in the Nov. 8 presidential election to influence its outcome.
According to the July 1-8 poll, 21 percent of likely voters will not
back Trump or Clinton. That compares with about 13 percent of likely
voters who opted out of the two main choices at the same point in the
2012 race between incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican
challenger Mitt Romney.
The poll also showed a majority of American voters have an overall
"unfavorable" view of both main candidates, with 46 percent of Clinton
supporters and 47 percent of Trump supporters saying their top priority
when voting will be to stop the opposing candidate from reaching the
Demand for an alternative could be decisive in hotly contested
battleground states. In Florida in 2012, for instance, Obama won by less
than 1 percentage point. If this year's race is just as tight,
third-party candidates could draw enough support to flip the state from
one major party to the other.
Despite this, both Johnson and Stein have a problem that make their
influence hard to predict - most voters still do not know who they are.
Of likely voters, 23 percent say they are at least "somewhat familiar"
with Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico. That drops to 16 percent
for Stein, a physician.
Johnson could appeal to both liberals and conservatives. He wants to
legalize marijuana and replace income and payroll taxes with a
Stein could make a strong bid to backers of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders
of Vermont, who ran a close race with Clinton for the Democratic
presidential nomination. Stein wants to abolish student debt and raise
the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. She also aims for the country
to run on renewable energy by 2030.
Stein’s communications coordinator, David Doonan, said that the campaign
is working to boost her numbers and that the Green Party is circulating
a letter that directly appeals to people who supported Sanders. “He also
started very low” in the polls, Doonan said.
[to top of second column]
A combination photo shows U.S. Democratic presidential candidate
Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican U.S. presidential candidate
Donald Trump (R) in Los Angeles, California on May 5, 2016 and in
Eugene, Oregon, U.S. on May 6, 2016 respectively. REUTERS/Lucy
Nicholson (L) and Jim Urquhart/File Photos
So far it appears that Johnson and Stein draw support evenly from
Clinton and Trump when they are included in opinion polls. In a four-way
race, 45 percent of likely voters support Clinton, 34 percent Trump, 5
percent Johnson and 4 percent Stein, according to a separate five-day
polling average on July 8.
That compares with 46 percent for Clinton and 33 percent for Trump in a
Given a little more information about the two alternative candidates,
respondents who back Johnson and Stein draw more deeply from Clinton’s
Some 44 percent of likely voters support Clinton, 34 percent Trump, 7
percent Johnson and 5 percent Stein, after reading the following
statement, according to the poll: "Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate
for President, has taken an environmental position supporting a strong
government role limiting carbon-based fuels, such as coal. Gary Johnson,
the Libertarian candidate for President, has supported severely limiting
the government’s role, including slashing taxes and reducing programs
such as Medicare and the military and broadly decriminalizing currently
The Reuters/Ipsos poll is conducted online in English with American
adults in the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii. The survey
of voters who want an alternative to Trump and Clinton included 2,153
likely voters and has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of
2 percentage points. The five-day average poll that ended July 8
included about 1,240 likely voters and has a credibility interval of 3
(Editing by Caren Bohan and Howard Goller)
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.