Poll: Johnson Benefits From Unpopularity of Trump, Clinton

Johnson recently clinched the Libertarian nomination for president. (Image via Flickr)

With a general election shaping up to feature two of the most historically unpopular presidential candidates of all time, a new Morning Consult poll shows Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson emerging as a more palatable choice for some voters.

The former New Mexico governor and 2012 Libertarian candidate was the top choice for 10 percent of registered voters polled June 1 through June 4. When asked what their main reason was for backing Johnson, 72 percent of his supporters said it was because they don’t like either of the other likely candidates, GOP nominee Donald Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

One-fourth of the small cadre of people supporting Johnson said they support him because they share his political views. He advocates for, among other things, legalizing marijuana, eliminating the current tax code, and making it easier for Mexican citizens to obtain temporary work visas in the United States.

Johnson is still far from a household name. Almost two-thirds of voters (61 percent) can’t identify him at all, while only 31 percent recognize him as a politician. When described as a politician, 17 percent of voters accurately identified him as a former governor, while 12 percent thought he was a former member of Congress.

Which major presidential candidate Johnson affects more in Morning Consult’s head-to-head matchup varies slightly based on how he is identified, although the differences are marginal. When he is identified as an independent, Clinton edges Trump, 37 percent to 35 percent.

When Johnson is identified as an independent.ClintonTrumpJohnsonDon't Know
Overall (June 1-4)37%35%10%18%
Democrats73%8%6%13%
Independents21%30%18%30%
Republicans9%75%6%10%

But when Johnson is identified as a Libertarian, Trump shades it against Clinton, 37 percent to 36 percent.

When Johnson is identified as a Libertarian.ClintonTrumpJohnsonDon't Know
Overall (June 1-4)36%37%10%17%
Democrats69%10%9%12%
Independents28%33%10%29%
Republicans6%74%11%9%

The national Morning Consult survey polled 2,001 registered voters from June 1-4 for a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. See the toplines and crosstabs.