Third-party candidates campaigning for the 2016 US presidential election are gaining more support among voters as Republican and Democratic nominees continue to struggle with their unparalleled unpopularity, polls show.
Recent polling averages by RealClearPolitics hint at a steady yet significant rise in support for Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee Gary Johnson, going from 4.5 percent to 7.2 percent over the past six weeks.
Green Party candidate Jill Stein has also enjoyed a surge in support. She is now supported by 3.5 percent of the voters, up from 2.5 percent in June.
The figures, although minimal, may dramatically affect the outcome of the November election, should voters in some states opt for anyone but Republican nominee Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Trump and Clinton are both ranked among the most unpopular presidential candidates in America’s history.
Earlier this month a survey by the Associated Press found that 81 percent of US voters were worried by the idea of a Clinton or Trump presidency.
The poll also found that 75 percent were chiefly voting to keep either candidate from entering the White House.
“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.
Experience from past elections show that votes for the Libertarian candidate directly affects the Republican vote, while the Democratic vote can take a hit from the Green Party votes.
Last week, a CNN poll estimated that some 17 percent of Republican voters who were not interested in Trump had joined Johnson’s campaign, while only 4 percent of Democratic voters did the same.
Six percent of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ supporters also decided to back Stein instead.