By Ben Kamisar, The Hill
Surveys over the last six weeks have found a steady but noticeable jump in support for third-party candidates. The biggest beneficiary has been Libertarian Gary Johnson, who has shot up from 4.5 percent to 7.2 percent in RealClearPolitics polling averages. Green Party candidate Jill Stein has also seen an uptick since June — from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent.
The surge in support for a third-party candidate is adding a new element of unpredictability into the presidential race. Should voters opt for a third-party candidate in large numbers, it could potentially tip the scales in crucial battleground states.
Pollsters and political scientists say the deep malcontent with Clinton and Trump should give both candidates pause.
“The fact that we have two major party candidates who are enormously disliked by the electorate, enormously and equally disliked, creates the opportunity for the minor party candidates to do better than they would in other presidential elections,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
“The minor party candidates can have great influence if the final race is very close.”
Pollsters contacted by The Hill predicted that many of the voters now leaning toward a third-party candidate would eventually side with Trump or Clinton by Election Day.
But they caution that the volatility of the race and the low favorability ratings for both candidates mean anything is possible.
To read more, click here: http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/289859-third-party-support-surging