Jo Jorgensen Beating the Trump-Biden Spread in Texas, Ohio, Georgia, Iowa, and…Alaska?
As of 9 a.m. ET Friday morning, 93 hours before the first voting locations open on Election Day, polling for Libertarian Party (L.P.) presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen exceeded the distance between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in five critical states: Texas (with its 38 electoral votes), Ohio (18), Georgia (16), Iowa (six), and, in extremely limited polling, Alaska (three).
All five states went for Trump by at least five percentage points in 2016. Texas hasn’t voted for a Democrat since Jimmy Carter; Alaska hasn’t since Lyndon B. Johnson.
Jorgensen was also within one percentage point of the Trump-Biden margin in hotly contested Florida (29 electoral votes), North Carolina (15), and Arizona (11); each of which, too, chose Trump four years ago. (For a breakdown of the numbers, including some for Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins, scroll to the bottom of this post.)
This news may come as a surprise to those who assumed—with plenty of reason—that the incredible shrinking third-party voter wouldn’t play much if any role in the most-important-election-in-the-history-of-our-country, Flight 93 face-off between two malapropism–prone major-party septuagenarians.
And yet! Four years after the razor-thin Trump-Hillary Clinton margin was exceeded in 11 states by Libertarian Gary Johnson, four states by Green Party nominee Jill Stein, and—no, really!—one state by independent Evan McMullin, one of the 2020 election’s low-key puzzlers is that the presidential candidate from the only third party to be on all 51 ballots for three cycles running has not appeared in a single poll in nearly one-third of the country.
That means no Jorgensen polling in North Dakota, which went 6.2 percent for Johnson in 2016, the Libertarian’s second-best showing behind his home state of New Mexico. No South Dakota, either, which at 5.6 percent was his sixth-best. (Even without third-party candidates on the ballot, the Dakotas, which Trump won by 30 points last time around, are two of his worst five states for 2016-2020 declines, at minus seventeen percentage points each.)
Trump will probably win the Dakotas, which is one of the main reasons we don’t see much third-party polling there, or in deep-red or deep-blue states such as Tennessee and Rhode Island. Political competition drives interest, for better or worse, and with the hollowing out of non-national news organizations, there just aren’t many volunteers for the job of public opinion research in Connecticut and Mississippi.
But this void may be somewhat warping our view of Tuesday’s election. When crunching Jorgensen’s numbers three weeks ago, I pointed out the absurdity of not polling nontraditional candidates in famously nonconformist Alaska, the state where the L.P. had its best showings in 1976, 1980, 1984, and 1988, and many other third-partiers have done likewise. Sure enough, the one and only poll to include the Libertarian in 2020 showed her with 8 per
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