This was supposed to be the year the Libertarian Party went mainstream. Given the two historically unpopular major party candidates and with a former governor, Gary Johnson, as their nominee, things were looking good for the Libertarians. Johnson made it onto the ballot in all 50 states. He was regularly polling in the low double digits, and his support held up after the Democratic and Republican parties’ conventions — past the point when most third-party candidates begin to fade.
Things, however, have taken a turn for the worse for Johnson. His numbers are dropping — from about 9 percent in national polls in August to 6 percent now — and he’s been overshadowed by another (and previously even more obscure) third-party candidate.
Johnson’s decline isn’t shocking. Third-party candidates usually lose steam the closer we get to the election. But Johnson is faltering even against that standard. Based on his polling in late August, FiveThirtyEight’s polls-plus model, which accounts for the drop-off third-party candidates usually experience, projected Johnson to get around 7 percent of the vote. The same model has him down to just 5.6 percent now.