Meet the Guy With Surprising Poll Numbers Against Clinton, Trump
Libertarian Gary Johnson nabbed 10% in 2 recent matchups
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2016 3:03 PM CDT
Libertarian candidate and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson speaks with legislators at the Utah State Capitol on May 18, 2016, in Salt Lake City.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(Newser) – There's a guy who's "having a good day" and emerging with surprising poll numbers against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but he's someone FiveThirtyEight says is easy to confuse with "that plumber who fixed your running toilet last month or your spouse's weird friend from work who keeps calling the landline." Who? It's Gary Johnson, the probable Libertarian Party candidate for president, and based on recent numbers, FiveThirtyEight thinks he's someone to keep an eye on. The ex-New Mexico governor went up against both Clinton and Trump in two May polls, and while Trump and Clinton hovered within 3 points of each other in both polls—Clinton got 38% to Trump's 35% in a Morning Consult survey released Tuesday, while Trump came out with 42% to Clinton's 39% in a Fox News poll conducted May 14-17—Johnson walked away with 10% in both matchups. And FiveThirtyEight doesn't think these polls are necessarily May outliers, citing a Monmouth University poll from March that gave Clinton 42%, Trump 34%, and Johnson 11% in a three-way runoff.

Morning Consult notes that percentage is nearly twice as high as what Johnson got in most 2012 tracking polls when he ran against President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney. And Vox notes that if the experienced Johnson is picked as the Libertarian nominee at his party's convention in Orlando, Fla., this weekend—along with William Weld, an ex-Massachusetts governor who could become Johnson's running mate—the Libertarian ticket "could have a real opportunity this November to run a real race against two of the least-liked presidential candidates in recent history." What FiveThirtyEight also says Johnson has in his favor: history, via other third-party candidates who did fairly well nationally (e.g., George Wallace and Ross Perot). And the Washington Post says the case for a third-party candidate is growing. But FiveThirtyEight also adds Johnson only won 1% of the national vote in 2012 and that he still needs to secure the nomination. (Don't know Johnson well? USA Today takes you on a "speed date.")