Libertarian Party sees spike in registration, fundraising
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The Libertarian Party has seen a sustained surge of new members joining, with first-time registrants in May on pace to increase 20-fold over the same period from last year. 

The party also expects to post its strongest fundraising haul since at least 2000, and maybe ever. 

New data obtained by The Hill shows that the Libertarian National Committee averaged around 100 new members a month last year, bottoming out with just 74 first-time registrants last May. 

But beginning in early 2016, as the contours of the Republican and Democratic races began took shape, new membership began creeping upward to 148 in January, 323 in February, 546 in March, 706 in April, and now 1,292 in the first three weeks of May alone.

Overall dues-paying members have increased by about 20 percent so far this year, from 11,680 to 14,444 as of May 23. 

The Libertarian National Committee has also seen a spike in fundraising, bringing in $205,000 in April, its largest monthly haul since 2004. 

A party operative told The Hill they are on pace to double that figure in May, estimating a $400,000 haul. 

Those figures come against a backdrop of polls that find the two likely major party candidates, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE, suffer from historically low approval ratings. 

Surveys indicate that there is a strong appetite for an independent or third-party alternative. 

The Libertarian Party will hold its nominating convention this weekend in Orlando. 

Gary Johnson, the former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, is favored to win. He was also the party’s standard bearer in 2012, when he won about 1.3 million votes – a party record. 

Several recent polls found Johnson taking 10 percent in a three-way match-up against Trump and Clinton. 

The Presidential Debates Commission requires candidates hit 15 percent in several recent polls to qualify for the debate stage.