As I wrote yesterday, a whole bunch of recently released polling shows that the race is undeniably tightening. Nationally, Hillary Clinton continues to hold a slim lead over Trump, and there are many battleground state polls that show an increasingly close race.
There are many factors behind that, one of the major ones being that these recent surveys were conducted during what was probably the worst weekend to date for the Clinton campaign as she battled fallout from the “basket of deplorables” comment and her pneumonia diagnosis.
But another factor, evidenced by the recent polling, is that young people are at least partly the reason why the race is so close – not because they support Trump, obviously, but because they are entertaining the idea of voting for third-party candidates Gary Johnson or Jill Stein.
According to a national Quinnipiac University poll released just yesterday, Clinton leads Trump by five points in a head-to-head matchup – a respectable margin. But, when respondents were given the choice of choosing either Johnson or Stein, her lead shrunk to just two points.
The same applies to a New York Times/CBS News poll released today that shows her with a head-to-head lead over Trump but tied in a four-way race.
That’s because, as the Quinnipiac polling results show, Clinton’s margin over Trump with voters age 18-34 goes from 21 points in a two-way race to five points in a contest including the third-party candidates. In the expanded field, Gary Johnson gets the support of a whopping 29 percent of voters in this age group (more than Trump’s 26 percent) and Jill Stein pulls in a pretty sizable 15 percent.
My question to young voters who favor Clinton in a head-to-head contest against Trump but abandon her in a race that includes the third-party candidates: What in the world are you thinking?
Set aside the fact that Jill Stein is, like Trump, cozy with Russian president Vladimir Putin, and she can’t even reserve a seat on the correct flight. Disregard the fact that Gary Johnson doesn’t even know what Aleppo is, even though it’s Syria’s largest city and central to the refugee crisis.
Despite all of that, one indisputable fact remains: Neither of them will be elected on Nov. 8.
Let me repeat that for every young person out there throwing a fit about the “terrible” major party candidates on the ballot this year: Regardless of your potential vote for Johnson or Stein, they will lose. There will not be a President Johnson or President Stein on January 20, 2017.
Whether you like it or not, the next president’s name will either be Hillary or Donald. Once you accept this obvious reality, the choice is clear.
Abandoning Clinton because she is imperfect and opting for a candidate you know will lose only makes it more likely that Donald Trump will become the next president. If young people care about the future, as most do, then that is an outcome they should flatly reject.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.