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. Jon

    Great Johnson will give us another 4 years of Obama

    September 10, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  2. Dann DFW

    A nice follow-up to this piece would be hearing about the efforts of the Republican Party to challenge Johnson's inclusion on state ballots in an effort to eliminate him as a choice. The amount of money and effort they are utilizing is an indication they are well aware of his appeal and possible effect.

    For those who say Johnson would be to blame if Mitt Romney is not elected, you're missing the point. If Mitt Romney and the Republican Party want the votes of those who support Johnson then they should court them rather than alienate them as they have done through changing the rules at the convention so Ron Paul's name couldn't be put in nomination, adopting a platform that curtails individual liberty through restriction of choice and support for the PATRIOT Act, and the list goes on.

    September 10, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  3. Rob Boss

    Let Gary Johnson into the debates!

    Both major parties are MIRED in their dogma, and won't admit that their numbers don't add up. We need a third party to call them out!

    September 10, 2012 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  4. Elizabeth

    Are you sure you're looking at the right polls? In some other polls, Gary Johnson is pulling more from Obama than Romney, especially in states like Colorado where Obama's alphabet soup thugs have been busting more dispensaries and growers in four years than Bush did in eights, and with the marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot in that state, there are a lot of people unhappy with Obama's actions regarding marijuana, despite the empty rhetoric he spews forth on the topic. Gary Johnson is the ONLY candidate discussing ending the drug war, Gary Johnson is the ONLY candidate who has double digit job growth rate while he was in office (11.6%), Gary Johnson is the ONLY candidate offering up a plan to address unemployment, the deficit, the budget, while Romney is flip-flopping on his now partial support of Obamacare and Obama does nothing but increase the deficit by trillions, plays golf and send his wife on very expensive vacations on the tax payers' dime. Besides, Gary Johnson eliminated a $1 billion deficit and built up a $1 billion surplus, cut taxes 14 times and shrank the size of state government by 10% through attrition. Romney and Obama don't even have anything in their records in comparison to that.

    September 10, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  5. Chris in NM

    Johnson is the only fiscal conservative running against the current president. The GOP put the nail in its own coffin by picking Romney as its candidate. If Johnson could take away 100% of the votes going to Romney, in addition to the Libertarian base, we might actually get this country back on track. It's understandable that the GOP is scared of Johnson taking votes away from their out-of-touch billionaire. Many Moderates, Independents, and Libertarians see through the propaganda and false promises. We want someone with governing experience that can actually reduce the deficit while preserving our individual freedoms.

    September 10, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  6. skarphace

    Ancient Texan: already looking for someone to blame are you?

    September 10, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  7. Elizabeth

    Hey Ancient Texan, Ross Perot prevented Clinton from winning by a landslide. Stop digesting incorrect information. Ross Perot sucked more voters away from Clinton than Bush.

    And if the GOP didn't nominate such a weak, flip-floppy, spineless windsock of a candidate that even McCain didn't want four years ago, why should we vote for someone who has a terrible record as governor and no convictions?

    September 10, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  8. John

    Funny how some Repubs think that anyone who votes for Obama should have their voting rights rescinded. To you "comrades" I say go find a dictatorship or at least a communist country to live in. Here in the US (with the exception of the stolen election of 2000), this is a country where the majority wins the election. And if you don't want to move, that you're just being girlishly histrionic, go get more of your friends to vote your way instead of sounding off here like a total nut j o b.

    September 10, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  9. Mike in Texas


    Mitt Romney wants to be President......because he wants to be President. I have said that all along and Governor Patrick echoed it when he said Mitt Romney was more interested in having the job as Governor of Massachusetts than in doing the job.

    Romney only wants to be President so he can say he is President.

    September 10, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  10. Randy, San Francisco

    It can only hurt Romney and Ryan, especially after the disgraceful treatment Ron Paul and the Libertarian Republicans received at the RNC,

    September 10, 2012 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  11. Mike in Texas

    My prediction is Obama wins with 319 electoral votes to 219 for Romney. I give Romney North Carolina, New Hampshire and Colorado. He may take Virginia but I don't know. I don't think he captures Ohio

    September 10, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  12. Jason

    The do nothing GOP house ensured an Obama victory through their treason

    September 10, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  13. skarphace

    Gary Johnson will probably take an equal number of those disenfranchised with Obama as it will those who will refuse to vote for a Mormon. In the end, it will be a wash and Obama will win. The Republicans will probably take a slim majority in the Senate, though.

    September 10, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  14. Tex71

    I am betting Johnson doesn't get as many disillusioned former Obama voters as he does disillusioned rabid right-wing extremist voters for whom Romney is a flaming liberal and the ideal candidate would be a genetic mash-up of Ayn Rand, Palin, Adolf Eichmann, and Ronald Reagan.

    September 10, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  15. jay

    I keep remembering my grandfather v oting in his last election. He had to ask the election judge how to write in John Anderson because he couldn't stomach voting for Reagan. The man was a life long Republican, usually was in the booth just long enough to mark the "R" at the top of the ballot.

    September 10, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  16. Lyons

    The 'conservatives' gave us a liberal...again(Mitt Romney) ...so we're taking the election...Ron Paul, Gary Johnson,or Virgil Goode...take your pick real conservatives/libertarians... we're going to win the senate and maintain the house...but we will not let the GOP take the WH

    September 10, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  17. Jeff

    The only candidate worth a darn on the ballot. Paul supporters would be plain hypocritical not to vote for Johnson. If libertarians can get a double digit vote in most states, it would mean that liberty candidates like Paul will have a better chance of being included in future debates. Even better would be if Paul agreed to be Johnson's VP.

    September 10, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  18. David

    I want to see both Jill Stein and Gary Johnson in the debates! They are running so we need to be able to make an informed choice as to who to vote for. Include Jill and Gary along with Romney and Obama. The American voters should hear what they have to say.

    September 10, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  19. David

    If Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are running, shouldn't they be in the debates?

    September 10, 2012 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    -Ancient Texan
    If Obama wins re-election, Johnson can take the blame, just like Ross Perot in 1992 and 96...Spoiler, nothing more.
    Sounds like you've resigned yourself to losing, you parasitic Red-State fart.

    September 10, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  21. us_1776

    Gary Johnson 1890


    September 10, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  22. larry5

    Just because he might be the best qualified man for the job does not mean that he has a ghost of a chance at getting the job.

    September 10, 2012 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  23. PTBarnumboy

    Sounds like Ironman666 is in dire need of some counseling. As to the topic at hand, Mr. Johnson won't draw enough votes to even notice.

    September 10, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  24. VVVVVV

    I'm voting for Johnson, but I doubt California will go to Romney if I voted for him. I think I'm safe.

    September 10, 2012 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  25. RonFromNM

    A vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for Gary Johnson, not a vote for Obama or a vote for Romney. It's asinine thinking like this article that keeps us locked into this 2 party, lesser of 2 evils death spiral. The only way you "throw away your vote" is if you don't vote for the candidate you REALLY want. Gary Johnson, 2012.

    September 10, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
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