Amid reports that U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI) might be launching a third-party bid for the White House this year, one poll shows it could ultimately be bad news for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Amash, a former Republican and vocal critic of President Donald Trump, signaled late last month that he would begin the process of seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination. If successful, he could serve as a spoiler who helps the incumbent win re-election.
Small margins, big consequences
Biden boasts a nine-point lead over Trump in a head-to-head race, according to Monmouth’s poll.
That 50% to 41% margin shrinks to just a seven-point Biden advantage — 47% to 40% — when the third-party option is included. Amash registered at 5% in the poll.
Though Biden’s lead has grown since the poll was conducted in March and April, Amash could potentially have a major impact in battleground states vital for an electoral victory.
In 2016, Trump narrowly won a series of states — Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — that secured his path to the White House. During the same race, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson’s vote tally in each of those states was larger than Trump’s margin of victory over rival Hillary Clinton, as The Blaze reported.
All three of the states had a long history of going to the Democratic Party candidate in election cycles prior to 2016.
The Gary Johnson effect
Shortly after that election, Vanity Fair writer Tina Nguyen argued that Johnson, along with Green Party nominee Jill Stein, aided Trump’s campaign.
“Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, won 3 percent of the popular vote and over four million votes—many of them in close states that could have swung the election for Clinton,” she wrote in November 2016. “Johnson won 25,000 votes in New Hampshire, for instance, where Clinton lost by just 4,000.”
Similarly, Nguyen noted that Stein’s roughly 1% support in Wisconsin was “potentially enough to have tipped the state to Clinton.”
Given the recent polling and trends identified in previous elections, Trump and his supporters might have reason to thank Amash if the president wins another term.