Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are both veterans of the 2012 presidential election
With voters taking to the polls today, Hillary Clinton facing high levels of voter distrust, and more moderate Republicans turning away from Donald Trump, public attention is increasingly turning to two lesser-known candidates for the White House.
While Libertarian Party pick Gary Johnson and presumptive Green Party nominee Jill Stein have both recently risen in the polls, it remains to be seen whether either will make a significant impact in the final contest.
This will be the second presidential bid for Stein, a 66-year-old activist from Massachusetts, presuming she secures the party’s endorsement at its August convention.
The former doctor received almost 470,000 votes (or 0.36% of the popular vote) in the 2012 election — more than any other female candidate for the White House, according to analyst Gregory Rosenthal.
A CNN/ORC poll published today puts her support at around the 4% mark.
Born in Chicago, Stein practised medicine for over two decades before switching focus to advocacy.
In 1998, she took a leading role in protests against the “Filthy Five” coal plants in Massachusetts.
The campaign marked the beginning of a career agitating for renewable energy, campaign finance reform and greater income equality.
Stein considers herself to be more left-wing than Sanders on foreign policy and domestic issues such as student debt, which she says should be immediately abolished.
Only a Green vote means:— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) July 25, 2016
✔️Abolish Student Debt
✔️End Wars for Oil
✔️Stop TPP#VoteYourConscience 🗳
She has proposed a “Green New Deal” strategy to create millions of jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030.
Her platform also includes a commitment to establish an improved single-payer public health insurance programme that includes reproductive services.
Like Sanders, she supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and breaking up big banks.
“Many of my supporters are also his supporters,” she told NBC News earlier this year.
“We’re different,” she added. “He is working inside the Democratic Party. I threw in the towel a long time ago.”
Johnson, who won the Libertarian Party nomination for president in May, is also a veteran of the 2012 presidential race.
He won 0.99% of the popular vote (or 1.27 million votes) in that election, having declared his candidacy for the Libertarian ticket after withdrawing from the Republican nomination process.
The 63-year-old headed up a large construction company before serving as governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003.
Johnson’s platform includes proposals to cut debt, scrap income tax and reduce the regulation of business.
He takes a more liberal stance on other issues, however, supporting gay marriage, abortion rights and the legalisation of marijuana.
He has also branded Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration “ridiculous”, saying the US should instead "embrace immigration”.
"I am fiscally conservative in spades and I am socially liberal in spades," he told the Associated Press in May.
"I would cut back on military interventions that have the unintended consequence of making us less safe in the world."
In a recent interview, Johnson struggled with questions on foreign policy. When interviewed on MSNBC's "Morning Joe", Johnson was asked what he would do about Aleppo if he was elected. His response: "And what is Aleppo?"
Panelist Mike Barnicle, who asked the question, clarified the situation indicating that Aleppo was the centre of the current problems in Syria. Once Johnson heard the country, he replied: "Okay, Got it. Well, with regard to Syria, I do think that it’s a mess.”
“I think the only way that we deal with Syria is to join hands with Russia to diplomatically bring that at an end but when we’ve aligned ourselves with — when we have supported the opposition, the Free Syrian Army, the Free Syrian Army is also coupled with the Islamists, and then the fact that we're also supporting the Kurds and this is, it's just a mess. And this is the result of regime change that we end up supporting and, inevitably, these regime changes have led to a less safe world,” he added.
Clinton retorted, saying: "You can look on the map and find Aleppo."
Johnson is showing some positive momentum in the lead up to the election. He gets 7.6%* in the final IBD/TIPP Presidential Election Tracking Poll - up from 6.3% a day earlier and 3.7% just four days ago.
The libertarian candidate gets 4.7% overall in the Real Clear Politics average, up fractionally in recent days.
The 5% threshold is significant. If Johnson reaches that level, the Libertarian Party would qualify for public matching funds in 2020. It's unclear if the small-government Libertarian Party would accept such funding.
Johnson is outpolling Jill Stein in every state, though five states haven't featured Stein in the polls. The Green Party candidate has a polling average of 2% heading into Election Day.
Gill Stein told TIME Magazine yesterday: "If we get to 5%, to me that will just take it up a whole other level. And it means that we enter into the future starting on November 9 that we have automatic ballot access in most states and that we anticipate a presidential campaign where we have $8 to $10 million right out of the starting gate."