Spoiler alert: Poll finds small following for Libertarian candidate
September 10th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
10 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. scmaize

    Most of the people who prefer Johnson or Stein will not actually vote for them in November, because they realize their votes may affect the election in a way that they do not intend. However, Ralph Nader apparently got enough votes to take the election from Al Gore, so it can happen. The confusing butterfly ballots may have been enough to sway Florida, which Gore only lost by 500 votes or so, so no one can foresee strange things that happen in actual elections.

    September 11, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  2. HenryMiller

    Thereby proving that 96% of Americans are, at heart, authoritarian jerks, forever ready to pass laws that force others to live their lives in ways of which they, the jerks, approve. Or alternately, they're greedy jerks who want to pass laws that force others to pay for their lousy existences.

    What this country needs is a lot more of Mind Your Own Damned Business.

    September 11, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  3. DrJStrangepork

    Libertarian, Republican, Democrat... no different than Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, whatever. Seems to me that creating new names for crap doesn't change it from being crap. It is just more BS and a wise man once said.... 'BS is bad for ya'

    The more I learn about Libertarian though... the more I see it is just as full of it. Just because it is an "alternative" don't swallow it whole. That is what gets me about Ron Paul supporters. Read his platform... it would take us backward 150 years.

    September 11, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  4. Wes Scott


    The GOP is going down like a San Diego wh ore when the fleet hits town!

    September 11, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  5. Mangro

    Anyone who votes Obamma is insane or just paying attention....reminder...he used to buddy up with the guy who BOMBED the pentagon. That's enough reason to stay far far away from this man. His preacher said GD America and Obamma was shocked, his wife was proud FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HER ADULT LIFE the day he got elected. This is not a good man, he's no leader he's a divider and he's an embarrassment. I pray that he loses and we can move on.

    September 11, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  6. korkea aika

    Romney rained on Paul's parade in Tampa and further shrunk the small tent of the republican party. Huraaaaaaay!

    September 11, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  7. NorCalMojo

    If you vote for the lesser of two evils, you're a coward. Losing one election is a temporary set back. The party will see it's losing support and make changes. Continually voting for the same corruption election after election will perpetuate the problems indefinately.

    September 11, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  8. johnson and johnson

    gary johnson needs to bow out, he's just another megalomaniac politician that can't put his own feelings of personal grandeur aside and do the right thing, which is stop pretending he has a chance to do anything but keep obama in office. I wonder how much money obamas super pack is funneling to him on the down low to keep stringing him along so as to ensure an obama victory? don't fall for it, vote for Romney and take your country back!!!!

    September 11, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  9. pgh

    I'm going to take a wild guess and say that because many independents happen to be younger and/or technologically adept, at least more so than Republicans, that pollsters are underestimating the numbers of those who support unconventional candidates like Johnson. Both young and blacks feel that Obama has horribly let them down. Anybody old enough to have owned a phone through at least 1 prez election cycle knows to screen out pollster and campaign calls.

    September 11, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  10. Rob

    I agree with Henry Miller and wish someone would come up with a more libertarian form of government that would work. I'm worried, though, that the corporations would dominate things more than they already do.

    September 11, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  11. TIm

    I will raise my hand to help design butterfly ballots in all 50 states.

    September 11, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. george of the jungle

    poor henry has only one word to use jerks. Thats why no one listens to them . they can not articulate or string togeather coherant sentenaces. Our of the 96 % more than 50% are on the right tract forward 2012

    September 11, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
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