Spoiler alert: Poll finds small following for Libertarian candidate
September 10th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
2 years ago

Spoiler alert: Poll finds small following for Libertarian candidate

Washington (CNN) – Gary Johnson's poll numbers may not give him much-of-a shot at winning the presidency, but in the latest CNN/ORC Poll, he is registering enough of a following to possibly tip the balance in an increasingly close election.

Three percent of likely voters responded that they would vote for Johnson, the Libertarian Party's candidate for president, in November. That number is slightly higher among registered voters, with 4% identifying with the former governor of New Mexico.

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The poll also finds that Johnson's inclusion, along with the Green Party's candidate Jill Stein, hurts Republican candidate Mitt Romney more than it does President Barack Obama.

Obama leads Romney 52% to 46% when Romney and Obama are the only candidates in question, but Romney's support goes down three percentage points with the inclusion of the third party candidates. Obama's support only drops one point.

"The inclusion of the two minor-party candidates turns a six-point margin for President Obama into an eight-point lead," said Keating Holland, CNN's Polling Director. Since third party candidates are typically not on the ballot in all 50 states, those numbers can be slight deceiving when relating them to the support the candidates will receive on Election Day.

Johnson, who first ran as a candidate for the Republican Party, dropped out of the Republican race and accepted the nomination from the Libertarian Party on May 5, 2012.

The Johnson campaign says they don't see their candidacy as a Republican spoiler and argues that the Johnson's appeal is more important when looked at on a state-by-state.

"Generally, in places like Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada," said Joe Hunter, Johnson campaign spokesperson, "it appears that Governor Johnson's appeal comes from folks that supported Obama in 2008 and are now disillusioned with the president."

He continued: "Who cares if Johnson takes votes from Romney in California?"

Johnson is running a largely outsiders campaign and has actively been looking to pull votes from the Romney and Obama base. In the last two weeks, he attended rallies in both Tampa, Florida – the site of the Republican National Convention – and Charlotte, North Carolina – the site of the Democrats convention.

The campaign has also put a great deal of focus on courting former Ron Paul supporters since the ardently supported libertarian stopped his campaign for the Republican nomination. Johnson spoke at a Paul rally in Tampa and Hunter argues that they are making in roads among the typically loyal Paul supporters.

Johnson is rarely included in national polls, something the Johnson campaign has long complained about.

"Our issue is that polls become self-fulfilling," said Hunter, before the latest poll numbers came out. Hunter went on to say that even if a poll shows only a small following, they create a conversation about the candidate and increase the campaign's profile.

"If you are not even in the poll than you are not in the conversation," Hunter concluded.

This latest CNN/ORC poll sampled 1,022 adult Americans and was conducted by telephone on September 7-9, 2012. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Watch "OutFront" tonight at 7pm ET for Erin Burnett's interview with Gary Johnson.


Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC poll • Gary Johnson
soundoff (212 Responses)
  1. CaliforniaBC

    Let this be a warning to those who are considering a vote for the Green Party. You are ONLY helping the Republicans get into power again.

    September 10, 2012 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  2. msadr

    I refuse to vote for Obama. But Romney is even worse. If I can't vote for Ron Paul then I'm voting for Gary Johnson and the Party that would never try to control my uterus OR my money. And for those of you who say that voting for Johnson is like voting for Obama, YOU are part of the problem. Voting for Gary Johnson is voting for Gary Johnson. If everyone voted for the right candidate instead of the "lets not let the other guy win" candidate, we would have a decent president. Romney does not deserve to be President. He is the WRONG choice. At least Obama has 4 years of experience!

    September 10, 2012 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  3. kerfluffle

    Gary Johnson is getting this Republican's vote.

    Eat it Mittens.

    September 10, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  4. Larry

    Some seem to believe the onlly options are Democrat or Republican. A good number of people do not buy into that idea. A good number of those who vote for indepdendent candidates would likely not vote if the only options were D or R. I've been in that position in the past and either opted out or voted my conscience. Many of us are not partisans or sheep.

    September 10, 2012 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  5. Average Joe

    I wish Romney had picked Obama as his running mate, or "vice" versa.
    They could run on the Status Quo Party platform of bigger government, endless spending and more debt.
    At least that way they could get support from the majority of the voters.

    September 10, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  6. roy

    America needs to eliminate both parties who have ruined this country over the years and start complety over with a new political system because the one we have now is a complete joke run by big money.

    September 10, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  7. 4F

    This will help ensure that milk-toast, retread, fat-cat Rummy does not win this fall. God save us from Rummy!

    September 10, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  8. Nodack

    Never heard of him.

    September 10, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  9. PaxLoki

    Ancient Texan–may vote for Johnson–it would take away a vote from Obama–could never vote for Willard–aka Mitt

    September 10, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  10. G. W. Bush

    I want to run again. I would win!!

    September 10, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  11. WDinDallas

    The dope heads will vote Libertarian...Democrats

    The tree huggers will vote Green .... Democrats

    The big deal is the white male union workers will vote Republican this time and all those independents and liberal conservatives that wanted to give Obama a chance.

    Obama has turned into that cute puppy that after a couple years you just leave at the SPCA.

    September 10, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  12. RNP

    ► Gary Johnson IS the Best Qualified Candidate:

    1. Gary Johnson has a great public and professional record with no personal life scandals.

    2. Gary Johnson was a successful and popular Republican two-term Governor of a Democratic state.

    3. Gary Johnson is not a bomb-thrower, sleezeball or flip-flopper. He is consistent, principled person and a pragmatic, successful and proven electable leader.

    4. Gary Johnson is entrepreneur and successful business person and all-around accomplished person.

    Conclusion: If people want a real option of not voting for ‘their enemy’s enemy’ or the ‘least offensive’ of the two major party candidates, then this is a great opportunity. Gary Johnson is the real deal.

    September 10, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  13. NODAT1

    here come the demorats and rpulsacans spin doctors digging up the phantom history in order to shut this guy down how dare the American public have three choices, all we ever need is two. which is one step above being in a dictatorship

    September 10, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  14. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I would hope that all the 3rd party candidate be included in one debate. It would be nice if there were more inclusion of the smaller parties. I think people should know that there are more than just the Democrats and Republicans.

    September 10, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  15. Richard Larson

    If he pulls 5% of the popular vote, Obama wins Many disaffected Tea Party votes will go his way as a protest vote.

    September 10, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  16. Curran

    Why would I vote for Romney after the Republican party establishment sneaky, underhanded, tactics? I do hope that Libertarian and freedom loving Americans do vote for Johnson. If Romney does not get elected because votes went to Johnson, the primary cause lies within the Republican party. You did not have fair, open, or honest primaries. What was with all the sudden change of rules? Why did all the speeches at the convention have to be reviewed? My only conclusion is the republican establishment only cares about power, and not about freedom. If the convention was any indication of how you will run the country, I want no part of it. This is one voter who will cast his ballot for freedom.

    September 10, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  17. John The Electrician

    I'll vote for Govener Johnson. Recall our tropps now. We are not an empire wishing to rule the world.

    September 10, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  18. greg

    After the way Ron Paul supporters were treated in Tampa, Gary might pick up some extra supporters.

    September 10, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  19. David

    Johnson was a two term governor of New Mexico, inherited a debt, but turned it into a surplus. He vetoed more bills than any of the other 49 governors combined. Pretty impressive record, he is not just some perennial candidate like most assume. A vote for Gary Johnson is just that a vote for Gary Johnson, not a vote for Obama.

    September 10, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  20. Byron Weber

    If the mainstream media would take Governor Johnson seriously, his numbers would be much higher. If he gets into the debates, both candidates will take a hit. He may not get elected, but the Libertarian party needs to be taken seriously.

    September 10, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  21. anonymouse

    I was going to go down the "lesser of two evils" path and vote for Obama, since in my eyes Romney is a little worse and I dislike Paul Ryan. However, the more I looked into Gary Johnson the more excited I've become to actually get out there and vote. We need a third party to change things up & I'd love to see Johnson in the presidential debates.

    September 10, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  22. Solomon

    Who cares this way or that way Obama will be the winner. Romney is desperate and attacking Obama which he blamed Obama for.And GOP is after voter suppression try Romney to get to WH. But the sit has been taken sorry governer Romney go to swiss and Cayman islands.

    September 10, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  23. Patricksday

    He should run, he will certainly be the Ross Perot of 2012

    September 10, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  24. Luc

    CNN = establishment. So no surprise that they rarely cover Gary Johnson. Nevertheless, Governor Johnson will do very well in November. I predict a double digit number. Most RP supporters will deflect from the RNC and gather behind Johnson and so will many independents. Gary Johnson 2012!!

    September 10, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  25. Brian

    The third party concept will only work if you have run-off elections such as they have in France. Otherwise the third party will just throw the election to the most reactionary of the other two parties.

    September 10, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
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