Spoiler alert: Poll finds small following for Libertarian candidate
September 10th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
11 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. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    After all the work the Kochs and Rove went to to disenfranchise all republican voters to get Mittens the nomination, I would think that half of the GOP would desert plutocrat Mittens.

    September 10, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  2. truth hurts

    all the dope smokin' college kids that want pot legalized. definitely gonna hurt obama and not romney.

    September 10, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |

    Between Mr. Johnson and Ron Paul, they're going to take a portion of Willard's electorate. Then there are those TEAvangelicals wo simply will not vote for a Mormon.

    September 10, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  4. George Whitfield

    Glad to see Gary Johnson at 4% of registered voters in this poll. If he gets 5% in the November election, the Libertarian Party will become eligible for over 100 million dollars for its campaign in 2016. That would really open up the process for alternative ideas to the same themes of warfare, welfare and debt pushed by the Dems & Repubs. Gary Johnson is now our clear choice to restore America to peace, prosperity and liberty. Live free.

    September 10, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  5. max

    Would be such an irony if he could spoil it for Koch brothers....Karl Rove et al...Sheldon Adelson et al...lol!!!

    September 10, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  6. Marie MD

    There's some religious right wing candidate who wants to put his name on the ballot in Virginia (land of ultrasound and va gi nal probe for pregnant women) and cuccimama is doing everything possible to keep him off so as not to take votes from the twit.

    September 10, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  7. The Real Tom Paine

    -truth hurts

    all the dope smokin' college kids that want pot legalized. definitely gonna hurt obama and not romney.
    So, the Ron Paul people were ok when they were voting GOP, but the moment they leave you start dengrating them? Your desperation is showing: you know Romney will lose, because nobody likes the aristocrat and his dressage horse.

    September 10, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. Publius Novus

    @George Whitfield. But wouldn't it be rather hypocritical for the Libertarian Party to accept federal campaign money?

    September 10, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. GI Joe

    You go Gary Johnson. This country needs a third party. A healthy 3-party system might get the ultra-right-wing-kooks out of the old GOP. The GOP is no longer recognizable.

    You go Gary Johnson.

    September 10, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  10. MartR

    This is great news.

    I don't smoke pot – but I believe it needs to be legalized. It could also be an economic boost. It needs to be put on the table and discussed. Gary Johnson is prepared to do that.

    He has a great track record and is willing to talk about issues that the other two party puppets will not address.

    Go Gary! Live Free

    September 10, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    "it appears that Governor Johnson's appeal comes from folks that supported Obama in 2008 and are now disillusioned with the president."

    I dunno. Suggesting that true "libertarians" voted for Obama in 2008 is a bit misleading, don't you think?

    September 10, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  12. moonghaelela

    The more Ann Romney shows her true self the less people like her. Her husband is beyond likeable.

    September 10, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. moonghaelela

    Weren't the pot heads for Paul?

    September 10, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. The REAL Truth...

    I'm surprised the GOP aren't funding his campaign. After all ANYONE (even Willard) better than Obama and should be funded if it will take votes away from him.. r-i-g-h-t ! NOT!

    September 10, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. ejktexas

    To CNN, this qualifies as coverage of the Gary Johnson campaign. They did a full spread on Bob Barr in 2008, had a candidate page set up for him, and included Bob Barr in polls. In 2012? They treat Gary Johnson like he doesn't exist and marvel at the "small" following. Get a clue, CNN.

    September 10, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  16. Anonymous


    Weren't the pot heads for Paul?

    Does it matter? Neither Ron Paul nor Gary Johnson will be legalizing pot anytime soon.

    September 10, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  17. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    Looks like the Supreme Court may have to hand the Republicans this presidential election too.

    September 10, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  18. sean lannon

    you commies got no guts. you're yellowbellies. no wonder nobody watches your propaganda operation.

    September 10, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  19. EZ

    CNN would never show a poll that reflected anything else. Consider the source.

    September 10, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  20. thetruthandnothingbutthetruth

    why do republicans HATE president Obama?

    September 10, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  21. Ol fashion Republican

    He's got my vote.

    I'm not comfortable with Mitt since he hasn't convinced me he has a plan.

    No tea for me anyway.

    September 10, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  22. Donavan Spencer

    3% is 3x the support he got in the rassmusen poll he was included in. None of the otherncandidates can sayntheirnsport has tripled in the past several weeks. Romney will lose big this year.

    September 10, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. Cathy

    Obama only wanted to make history for becoming the first "African American" president. He never really planned on doing anything. In an interview he made it very clear that in his first 2 years he was too busy trying to figure out his policy that he didn't have time to do his job. So re.elect him and there will still be nothing done, because, he will be a lame duck president. If the last four years are any indication, than the next 4 should put us out there feeding on each other!

    September 10, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. CB FL

    I would like to see how much the Repugs spent in Tampa on the gentlemens Club. This are good family men!

    September 10, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  25. angeson

    The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.
    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Blind greed doesnt sell today either

    September 10, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
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