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Biden holds commanding lead among third-party voters from 2016, polls show

Biden holds commanding lead among third-party voters from 2016, polls show
© Greg Nash

Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenAtlanta mayor won't run for reelection South Carolina governor to end pandemic unemployment benefits in June Airplane pollution set to soar with post-pandemic travel boom MORE is the favorite among voters who cast their ballots for Libertarian Gary JohnsonGary Earl JohnsonNew Mexico lawmakers send recreational marijuana bills to governor Judge throws out murder convictions, releases men jailed for 24 years On The Trail: Making sense of Super Poll Sunday MORE or Green Party nominee Jill Stein in the 2016 presidential election, according to a polling analysis from NBC News. 

Of the 215 voters interviewed for NBC News-Wall Street Journal polls this year who said they supported either Johnson or Stein in 2016, 47 percent said they plan to vote for Biden, while only 20 percent said they will vote for President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE, according to the NBC News analysis. 

Another 33 percent said they are either undecided or plan to back another candidate in November.

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Biden’s support among voters who previously voted for third-party candidates could prove pivotal in some key states if his current margin holds. 

In 2016, Trump carried Michigan by fewer than 11,000 votes, while Johnson and Stein won a combined 223,599 votes. If 47 percent of those voters had cast their ballots for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMcConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' Hillary Clinton: There must be a 'global reckoning' with disinformation Pelosi's archbishop calls for Communion to be withheld from public figures supporting abortion rights MORE instead of Johnson or Stein, she would have easily taken the state’s 16 electoral votes. 

Likewise, in Pennsylvania, where Trump beat Clinton by just over 44,000 votes, Johnson and Stein scored just under 200,000 votes combined. Again, if 47 percent of those voters had have cast their ballots for Clinton, it would have erased Trump’s margin of victory in the state.

It’s difficult to discern too much from the NBC News-Wall Street Journal polls. The surveys include responses from voters nationally, meaning they do not offer insight into voter attitudes or preferences in individual states.

But the polls suggest that 2016’s third-party voters as a whole may be more likely to support Biden over Trump, potentially giving the former vice president a boost come Election Day.