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Jumping Ship Will Ensure a Hillary Win, Say Pollsters

Image: Jumping Ship Will Ensure a Hillary Win, Say Pollsters

(Carolyn Kaster/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 18 Aug 2016 11:11 AM

Will Republicans jump ship and support Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson over Donald Trump, since some have said emphatically that they will not vote for Trump?

The answer to that question so far remains a mixed bag. But some pollsters say it could happen, though the results would probably launch Hillary into the White House.

The number of elected Republicans refusing to support Trump for president has mushroomed since the GOP convention last month. Several flatly say they won’t vote for Trump (Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois); others say they hope to support him but aren’t there yet (Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey); and some even say they will back Hillary Clinton (New York Rep. Richard Hanna).

But as for Republicans actually supporting the Libertarian ticket of former New Mexico Gov. Johnson for president and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld for vice president, the ranks are slim. For the most part, they are former elected Republicans, such as former Reps. Tom Campbell (California) and Jim Kolbe (Arizona) and eight sitting state legislators nationwide.

The lone incumbent member of Congress to actually say he will vote for Johnson-Weld is Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell, who is retiring after three terms.

I asked “Republicans for Johnson-Weld” head Liz Mair on Wednesday if she felt there would be Republican candidates facing the voters this year who would jump from Trump to Johnson.

“If Trump carries on in the same way he has been,” she replied, “It’s very likely that more [elected officials] will jump ship.”

Mair went on to say that “if Utah and Colorado keep trending the way they now are in the polls [toward Clinton] you will find more people saying ‘I can’t vote for him,’ and who will come over to Johnson-Weld.”

Pressed as to whether Republican office-seekers will gain support by bolting from Trump to Johnson, she told me that an unnamed pollster “who has several Republican candidates who are running for office this year has data showing that there is a gain for backing Johnson.”

Other pollsters disagreed sharply. “I don’t think [Republican] candidates who back Johnson gain very much,” said Franklin and Marshall College professor G. Terry Madonna, considered the premier pollster in Pennsylvania. “Johnson is polling at 6-to-9 percent.”

Madonna’s just-completed Franklin and Marshall Poll statewide shows that among likely voters in the Keystone State, Clinton leads Trump by a margin of 47-to-34 percent, with Johnson at 7 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein at 3 percent.

“It hurts a Republican if he breaks from the presidential nominee and supports Johnson or anybody else,” Steve Mitchell, dean of Michigan pollsters, told me. “It doesn’t matter who the nominee is — if you don’t support him, people in the party remember this, they resent the fact you didn’t support him, and they come back at you mad.”

Mitchell cited recent reports of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz being booed at party events after refusing to endorse Trump and the growing talk he will face a primary challenge in 2018.

He contrasted the behavior of Cruz toward Trump with that of Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who recently called on fellow Lone State Republicans to back the GOP nominee. In so doing, they younger Bush took the opposite position from that of his father Jeb, Uncle George, and Grandfather George H.W.

“George P. is very smart and has a political future,” said Mitchell. “He knows what to do.”

Mitchell’s latest polls show Clinton leading Trump among likely voters in Michigan by a margin of 43 to 33 percent, with Johnson at 9 percent and Stein at 5 percent.

“Among voters who consider themselves aligned with a party, Hillary gets 85 percent among self-described Democrats and Trump gets 75 percent among self-described Republicans,” he noted, “By November, Trump will be up to 85, perhaps 90 percent among voters in his own party. And they will remember who didn’t support him and, in the process, helped Hillary.”


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Will Republicans jump ship and support Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson over Donald Trump, since some have said emphatically that they will not vote for Trump?
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Thursday, 18 Aug 2016 11:11 AM
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