Election in Focus: Third party candidates could play key role

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Polling shows that the race between likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump (R-NY) has tightened dramatically. Just a few weeks ago, Clinton routinely led Trump by double digits. A raft of new polling shows a very different situation, with a handful of polls actually showing Trump with a small lead over Clinton.

The tightness of the Clinton-Trump race, coupled with the fact that substantial segments of the electorate say they are unhappy with both candidates, are giving third party presidential hopefuls a rare opportunity to make a serious impact on the race.

Over the weekend, the Libertarian Party, whose nominee will likely be on the ballot in all 50 states, selected former GOP Governors Gary Johnson (L-NM) and Bill Weld (L-MA) to be their presidential and vice presidential standard bearers.

A recent FOX News poll showed the Johnson/Weld ticket garnering 10 percent in a hypothetical three-way matchup against Trump and Clinton. Johnson was the Libertarian Party's nominee in 2012 and captured just over 1 percent of the vote nationally.

Johnson is not the only long-shot candidate garnering attention. National Review staff writer David French, a noted social conservative and defense hawk, is considering an independent bid for president. A potential French candidacy is being pushed by conservative pundit Bill Kristol, one of the leaders of the #NeverTrump movement.

If French decides to run, he will face an uphill battle just to get on the ballot in all 50 states. The deadline to appear on the Texas ballot has already passed and the deadline for North Carolina is next week. French supporters say they would challenge those deadlines in court.

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