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. Leftcoastrocky

    How about Virgil Goode in Virginia?

    September 10, 2012 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  2. Andy

    Johnson won't be comparable to Ross Perot because Romney still doesn't have a chance competing solely with Obama. Romney and his campaign doesn't have a plan yet for the country and there is less than 2 months. It is too late to come up with a plan now. As much as I don't like how Obama has conducted his presidency, there is no way I am voting for Romney.

    September 10, 2012 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  3. Sinator

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

    This has been my complaint for some time. With news agencies becoming so partisan, they don't bother to even mention third party candidates, thus having a large impact on the outcome of the election. Pollsters and news agencies need to do their job right and make sure they report about all of the candidates. Personally, I'm voting for Jill Stein. My vote doesn't count, just like yours doesn't either, but at least it will help show how disgusted I am by what the Republicans and Democrats have jointly done to my country.

    September 10, 2012 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  4. Lenny Pincus

    Obama is winning whether Johnson is in or not. He will only make Romney's loss bigger.

    The story is in VA where a 3rd Party candidate is really killing Romney.

    September 10, 2012 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  5. adampeart

    I'm all for Johnson. Beats the two headed corrupt bird of prey known as OBAMNEY.

    September 10, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  6. memine

    Ah yes. America! A beacon of democracy...assuming of course you except 1 of the approved options forced upon you come election time. What's that? You want MORE choices? You must be a nut job! We've spent decades rigging the system so no matter who wins...WE win. We won't allow that. Media blackout! The slaves learned how to think for themselves so we have to control their information...marginalize their candidates! Spend millions keeping them off the ballot. They won't realize that their every move has been manipulated by us...until it's too late.

    September 10, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  7. jay1975

    Perhaps if the media actually gave him some coverage as a candidate, he would poll higher. The media blackout of Johnson only helps keep the two "major" parties corrupt as they have a complete co-op of the media and set the rules that exclude other parties from having a real shot in the election. I will be voting for Johnson as his views are closest to mine and I will not let CNN, FOX, MSNBC or any other biased media outlet sway my opinion.

    September 10, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  8. Romney4Ever

    Absolutely he is. Ron Paul, Gary Johnson and all those third party zany zealots need to get out of the way. Romney is the guy – he told Paul to get out early, he told Johnson to get out early and they just wouldn't listen. Now they're paying the price of failure. They need to sit down, zip it, and vote the right way.

    September 11, 2012 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  9. RonPaul

    Hey, Romney4Ever, want to redo the primaries again – what do you want to bet Ron Paul beats Romney handily. You wonder why we're leaving the Republicans, because they "aint republicans, they're corporatists." And Romney, after 200 years of statesman of honor, and dignity, winning the white house from both parties, and others, we wind up with Mitt Romney who ran an offshoring operation. Sorry, but we won't sell our souls to be with a corporatist.

    September 11, 2012 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  10. ThinkAgain: Mittens 'n' Munster are Liars

    Run, Gary, run!!!

    September 11, 2012 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  11. Hillcrester

    This us just a successor to the Ron Paul fantasy. He is no Ross Perot. Heck, he's no Pat Buchanan.

    September 11, 2012 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  12. RonPaul_zealot

    Dear "Romney4Ever" we're following Gary – he's 1000 times your candidate.

    September 11, 2012 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  13. rocinante

    Libertarians complaining about not being included in a shared platform like a national poll – that's ironic.

    Why don't you take care of your own promotion, LIbertarians? Why the need to depend on free national media coverage? Stand up for yourself for once rather than depending on others to take care of you.

    September 11, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  14. apple pie

    Third party of not, Obama will probably win and win it by much more than expected. The GOP cooked their own goose in Tea. Out of touch.

    September 11, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  15. jay

    I keep remembering the family story about my grandfather voting 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.
    If I remember right Anderson got a large percentage of votes. It wasn't enough to influence the election.
    I always chuckle when I remember Gramps' last time voting. WWI vet who never discussed what happened to him in France. A quiet hero who came home, got a job and took care of his family. A lot like our vets of today.I hope they are as successful as he was.

    September 11, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  16. lance corporal

    dump the 2 party system, it has become the problem
    dump the electoral college and opt for direct vote
    eliminate the senate as completely unfair – – really? texas/california and rhode island/deleware all have the same pull?

    and more importantly stop thinking of these pols as important........ think of it as hiring an accountant
    I don't want them to have big ideas, just do the basics, manage the money correctly, stop making the gov't ITSELF cost so much and let the people work things out locally for the most part

    September 11, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  17. Tim Crowley

    @Chat Pata Ron Paul DID run. He lost.

    September 11, 2012 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  18. NYC Attorney

    If Johnson shows up on my ballot in Nov, I will be voting for him. I can't stand Romney and Obamas performance over the past 4 years has been anything but positive.

    September 11, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  19. Asiancabguy

    Did anyone notice all the "let me go to cuba" signs being held by african americans at the DNC convention. Did anyone notice how many people booed God. Did anyone notice the signs that said, "Allow me to marry my pet" ? These folks meant it. I drive a cab in D.C. folks there were saying that they put Malia Obama in a tanning booth to make her look darker. These black folks did not look like the black folks that get into my cab from their high end fancy jobs and go home to their pretty wives in the suburbs. These were different black folks than what I saw the last time. What is going on in black america. As a latino asian I am curious. I trust the black middle class but what I saw were a fringe group somewhere on the far left.

    September 11, 2012 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  20. pinostabaum

    romney is stealing votes from johnson. a vote for romney is a vote for obama

    September 11, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  21. Dano

    Its not just this guy. I voted for Obama last term, but won't again this time. In my opinion, there is only one person I will vote for this time around. His name is Harry Braun. If people actually put down their political arms, and looked at what is actually best for this country, then we would vote for somebody who has NO political affiliation. How many times have we heard that we need to build up our education, through science and math....yet, we have a person running for president, who is one of the most world renowned scientists for the last 30 years, has a clear plan to return us to a DEMOCRACY, and not the REPUBLIC that we have become, has a plan to put millions of people back to work, but cannot get on a ballot, because the dems blocked him. He switched to an Independent, but because he doesn't have the Koch Brothers or Donald Trump backing him.....if you really want to see a third option, please go to http://www.braun2012.org.....you just might look at things differently.

    September 11, 2012 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  22. randy

    In an increasingly close election? Did they sit all you guys down a few months ago and say, "No matter what happens, no matter what the polls say, the race is neck and neck. It's always close, even when it's not. Got it?"

    I think you can disregard that now.

    Even here on CNN (finally) it is reported that President Obama has recently opened a very real lead in the race. And it's not just a lead in national polling but in state by state battleground races for electoral votes.

    The contrast between the two party's conventions was incredibly stark this year. The press is too married to false Balance to acknowledge the fact. Report the truth. Quit wimping out in the face of inevitable "Bias!" claims from the right. They've been playing the refs for decades and you guys are some of the wimpiest. Just report the truth. We'll tune in. I promise.

    September 11, 2012 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  23. migeli

    Make sure you vote for Johnson. He's just wonderful.

    September 11, 2012 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  24. migeli

    Vote for God. He will save us all.

    September 11, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  25. RDM3

    I love it!!!! R-Money is toast!!! Congrats on winning your second term Mr. President!!!

    September 11, 2012 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
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