There is now slightly better than a 50-50 chance that a third party could get at least 5 percent of the popular vote. That’s striking.
It’s all the more striking because the polling numbers for perhaps the most prominent third-party candidate — the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson — haven’t really changed. Currently Johnson sits at 8 to 9 percent in polls that include him as an option. His campaign has also attracted support from some Republican leaders: He has been endorsed by one current and two former Republican members of Congress.
Given that third-party candidates typically see their poll numbers decline, this forecast suggests that Johnson’s decline may be small.
Johnson’s possible success doesn’t appear likely to affect whether Clinton or Trump wins the election, but certainly it would be a noteworthy achievement in a political system that otherwise makes it very hard for third parties.