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AJC poll: Libertarian Gary Johnson defies gravity in Georgia

Libertarian Gary Johnson continues to defy gravity in Georgia, pushing double-digits in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll released on Friday. And his popularity in Georgia is making the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton a neck-and-neck showdown.

For months, poll-watchers have predicted Johnson’s numbers would plummet as his GOP supporters rally around Trump. But they’ve remained consistently high, falling only slightly from 11 percent in the AJC’s August poll to 9 percent in last week’s survey.

At the same time, the AJC poll showed Libertarian Allen Buckley pulling double digits in the race against U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. If he can maintain that kind of support, a runoff between Isakson and Democrat Jim Barksdale seems likely.

Both are sky-high numbers for Libertarians in Georgia.

Johnson barely managed to crack 1 percent of the vote when he ran in 2012. And Bob Barr, a longtime Georgia lawmaker, had little native-son bounce here. He didn’t pass the 1-percent threshold when he was the Libertarian Party’s nominee in 2008.

And Buckley earned about 3.4 percent of the vote when he ran for U.S. Senate in 2008.

Johnson and running mate William Weld, both former governors, are polling highest among younger votes. Almost one in five voters between the ages of 18-39 indicated they are voting for the Libertarian ticket, with many saying they are disillusioned and disgusted with Trump and Clinton.

“I don’t like Clinton, but I don’t care for Trump,” said Matthew Lainhart, a 33-year-old warehouse manager from Barrow County who is typically a Republican voter. “So I’ve got to support Gary Johnson, even though I don’t feel good about it.”

More: Gary Johnson’s appeal to young voters is a test for Clinton in Georgia

Read more about the poll:

Why the presidential race in Georgia could come down to the wire

AJC poll: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are deadlocked in Georgia

AJC poll: Isakson has big lead in Ga. Senate race, but runoff possible

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.