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. Ancient Texan

    If Obama wins re-election, Johnson can take the blame, just like Ross Perot in 1992 and 96...Spoiler, nothing more.

    September 10, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  2. Chat Pata

    I wish Ron Paul had run, but if this guy can muster 5% of the vote to form a third party, then voters of Ross Perot can vote him. Unfortunately we do not know this guy the way we knew Ross Perot.

    September 10, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  3. ironman666

    any you dunb ass kids and woman put this ass back in office they should take your voting rights away from you this man is the worst president in office and for cnn quit making this bum walk on water tell the truth about this man you put this bum in office you will never get rid of him he is aimming to get rid of president and make him self a king and then he will never leave office he even said himself this man crazy he want's to spend more money and do the same thing that didnt work not once but twince he is mad he needs to stop

    September 10, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  4. MG

    Wait let's be clear on this, this guy is polling practically within the margin of error of zero votes. That's not really a game changer nor a spoiler.

    September 10, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  5. Ronda in Houston,TX

    Gary might as well run. The GOP is DOA.

    September 10, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  6. California Gary

    In the one debate during the primaries where they let this guy get on stage, he pretty much stole the show. They didn't let him up there again. Mitt and the boys will do everything they can to ensure this guy gets no serious consideration by blocking his access to the ballot wherever they can and by keeping him off the debate stage.

    September 10, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. Jackson


    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.


    What other news sources are giving him more time? Is CNN the worst for coverage of this candidate? If not, why single them out?

    September 10, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  8. wm Scot

    We need a legit third party so these congressmen and women will not have the power to stop our government from working !

    September 10, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  9. truth hurts

    none of the Ron Paul supporters were Romney supporters or they would have voted for him in the primaries. many that posted in here stated they would vote for obama before romney. so i really doubt what this article says with regards to more being taken away from romney versus obama. this sounds like another lame attempt to build obama up.

    September 10, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. Cathy

    For all of you out there who believe that we are to "Respect and Support" our President. I will do so as soon as he Respects me, you and America!

    September 10, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  11. kayla

    ironman, are you okay? you are carrying too much hate, relax nobody is more iidiot than bush, now thats an idiot. and don't ask about robme he is even more idiot than bush remember his foriegn trip? rotfl

    September 10, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  12. otheym

    Since neither the Demublicans or Republocrats care about free speech, civil liberties, and the massive national debt, we might as well vote third party. Things won't change no matter who is elected.

    September 10, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  13. Arcdtruth

    Right now I don't think Johnson has enough support to make a difference in the race. He could become a factor if enough conservative Republicans become irate and turn on Romney. The conservative right has been strangely quiet over Romney's remarks yesterday on Meet the Press where he threw John Boehner under the campaign bus and shot holes in the Republican's assertion that the Affordable Care Act was so bad the only solution is to repeal it and start over. If this were still the primaries, you have to believe those remarks would have sent the conservative bloggers into shock. Now that the GOP is stuck with Romney as their official candidate, there appears to be a lot of lip-biting right now. But if Romney keeps moving to the middle (aka the extreme liberal, off-the-charts Socialist fringe in the conservative lexicon) I think a conservative revolt against Romney is a possibility.

    September 10, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  14. dalla

    Gary Johnson was an Excellent Governor of New Mexico. Started in Office with a $500 million deficit and finished 8 years later with a $500 million surplus. His first thought/ question is "Is this truely a function of Government?" Its called fiscal responsibility. Something Washington D.C. knows NOTHING about...

    September 10, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  15. avalanche

    Johnson will get votes in states where it doesn't matter. I live in SC and may vote for him as a protest since SC will surely go red. Others in CA and NY may do the same since those states are deep blue. But when the state is a close call much of that 3-5% will end up deciding to support a main ticket candidate. When the votes count, people are more careful.

    September 10, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  16. onevoice

    @ironman666 Now that's what I call a GOP RUN-ON RANT. WOW. Could you use facts and figures or are you just SPOUTING OFF?

    September 10, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  17. Jesse Cornelius

    Governor Johnson is a great alternative to President Obama and Governor Romney. He believes in free markets, liberty, and social tolerance. This November Gary Johnson has my vote!

    September 10, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Vote for Libertarian candidate and former two-term Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson. Gary Johnson is fiscally conservative and socially liberal. He is the only candidate that wants to end the wars we are in, and END THE DRUG WAR (he was also a medical marijuana user after a paragliding accident. Johnson also participates in marathons and has climbed the highest peaks of 4 of the 7 continents). With no prior political experience, Gary Johnson became Governor despite being a Republican in a 2-1 Democratic state. While in office, he vetoed over 740 spending bills and over 1,000 line item vetos,, never once raised.
    taxes while lowering then 14 times, and left New Mexico (after winning.
    a second term) with a one billion dollar surplus. Gary Johnson also began his own company and grew it to 1,000 people.
    It is now one of the bigge
    st construction.
    companies in New Mexico.

    THIS is the type of President we need right now. Not Obama. Not Romney.

    Many will say that a vote for a third party is a vote wasted, or a vote for Obama, or that a third party could never win, but the truth is, you are wrong. The polls Johnson has been on has shown that he takes equally from both Obama and Romney, not to mention those who have become fed up with the Left and Right. Those who say that a third party could never win need to realize that it is because of folks like themselves that it hasn't already happened yet. Instead of treating elections like a race to be won, people need to stop voting based just on party and start voting their conscience. Isidewith.com is a survey site which asks you a series of political questions and the topics importance to you. Results have shown that, if folks based solely on the issues, Gary Johnson would win hands down. Another thing that I hear is that, since a third party will never win, we should vote lesser of two evils, if that isn't a waste of a vote, I don't know what it, again, we must vote our conscience.

    So this election, instead of voting for the "lesser of two evils" vote your conscience and take part in bringing about real change.

    Vote Gary Johnson 2012! LIVE FREE!

    September 10, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  19. southernwonder

    it is gettng awfully late in the campaign, and romney has no plan to offer on issues that bear on economy, and looks very scared to offfer one, and unintelligent in evading the issue when even a friedly fox reporter asks about them. a lot of people in republicans are feeling uncomfortable with romney, and are looking for an alternative on the right. they could be receptive to libertarian party of ron paul.

    September 10, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  20. bobthecat

    The spoilers are the two main parties. They are the ones who spoiled this country. We got Abraham Lincoln when 4 candidates ran for president and he was in a start-up party. I wish we could be so lucky now.

    September 10, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  21. veritaze

    Reblogged this on Veritaze.

    September 10, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  22. Dan

    He has my vote.

    September 10, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  23. just sayin

    just a nuttier version of ralph nadar... he needs to get a real job.

    September 10, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  24. ST

    This goes to show how crazy a human being can be. How can they allow pot lovers to waste their time and energy for nothing, BUT they do not allow genuine voters to exercise their right because of the so-called IDs?

    September 10, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  25. LKT

    Yeah, Gary Johnson. I am a registered Democrate who voted Johnson in as Governor of NM both terms. He was awesome then, he is still awesome now. Common sense. He brings it in abundance.

    September 10, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
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