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. TimB

    Don't get me wrong, I like Johnson and voted for him in the Republican primary. But the reality is that around this time in most campaigns voters will cast around looking for an alternative to the two major party choices. But come the actual voting, and most either shift back to one of the lesser weavils, or they opt to not vote. That happened for Anderson, Perot, Nader and most other third party candidates.

    September 11, 2012 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  2. elizabeth

    Johnson complains about not being included in national polls... If it's any comfort to him, we didn't pay any attention to him when he was governor of NM either.

    September 11, 2012 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  3. AmericanPeasant

    Ah I see CNN has caught on finally.

    Between the Paulties that will break off from the GOP and write-in Ron Paul and the Libertarians/true Independents that will vote Gary Johnson I would say that Mitt pretty much loses in a huge landslide. The GOP deserves it too, they could have picked a sensible candidate like Huntsman (#1 job creator governor!!!) but instead they picked Mitt (number 47 job creator as governor.) Heck they could have even picked Ron Paul and possibly won by a squeaker. Nope instead they picked Mitt and now they will lose in a tremendous landslide.

    Election was over the minute Mitt stole/bought the nomination. Hope you learn your lesson GOP and pick a serious candidate in 2016.

    September 11, 2012 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  4. Ron Wall

    The media supports the same old crap. Gary Johnson is not a spoiler. He is a good person that would shake up this country. To bad the news people are so programed, they cant even mention his name, in the head line. Why dont you all get out and look this man up. Gary Johnson gets my vote!!!!!!

    September 11, 2012 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  5. Robert Scherf

    Why aren't ALL candidates on the ballot in 50 states? Voter suppression? This shows that both the dems and republics are afraid that others may spoil thier party.

    September 11, 2012 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  6. groinksan

    You know what? I could care less what these minor party candidates do. You know why? It is because, as most people probably forgot, that the presidential election is decided by the electoral college. Remember, Al Gore won the popular vote over Bush in 2000. But, while some people will disagree with this, Bush did win the electoral college, and hence the presidential election. The electors in each state usually vote along the popular vote in his/her state. But never have I seen a elector go rouge and give an electoral vote for someone who didn't win the popular vote of the state. Unless Johnson or Stein can actually take one state's total electoral votes, them stealing individual votes won't matter because the overall popular vote tally doesn't matter.

    September 11, 2012 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  7. AgrippaMT

    Anything that helps diminish Mittens Rawmoney's chance of being elected is very, very good for America.

    September 11, 2012 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
  8. f4xtrafn

    It's nice to see an Ex-Repub give President Obama, one of our best presidents a helping hand to finish the good work he's done over the past 3 1/2 years. With health care reform, the elimination Bin Laden and most of his henchmen and a recovery from the worst recession in over 70 years, it would really be a shame to see the Romni/Ryan dog and donkey show slip in and trash the economic recovery with more wars and a thoughtless return to Bush's failed policies that decimated the economy, blew the national debt through the roof and eliminated millions of jobs.

    September 11, 2012 06:04 am at 6:04 am |

    Nobody cares but the Ron Paulbots who don't get it.

    September 11, 2012 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  10. kevin lanigan

    The Gop whipped up the fringe wingnnutz and now they will pay the price. Tea anyone?

    September 11, 2012 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  11. Vincent

    I think its about time for a multi-party system in the US!!
    If the parties were big enough, it would perhaps make them have to work together much more to do the work they were elected to do!

    September 11, 2012 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  12. NFL1

    Don't forget that Ralph Nader's % votes created the debacle that was the Florida "chad" issue and the Supreme Court selecting GW Bush in 2000! That one decision stole the vote from all Americans.

    September 11, 2012 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  13. TBS

    To Ancient Texan-Just like Ralph Nader was a spolier in 2000. Gore would have easily won Florida had Nader not been on the ballot(even though Gore probably did win florida anyway). Nader's presence on the ballot gave us GWB ,and we know how that turned out for the country!!!

    September 11, 2012 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  14. dick

    The Democrats need a new party composed of middle of the road liberals, These far left arrogant, loud, anti God, anti Isreal, pro abortion, big government, huge spending, man bashing, pro gay rights, anti marriage socialists need to be put on a boat and send to Iceland so their tongues can be frozen as that's the only thing that will shut out their noise!

    September 11, 2012 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  15. Eric

    Stop implying that third party candidates "hurt" either of the other two. This is why Americans don't bother with third party voting and as a result more people than ever hate both parties and have to choose "the lesser of two evils".
    NO! Vote third party and show the Dems/Reps that thay aren't the only ponies in the show.

    September 11, 2012 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  16. Steven Colo

    So after Romney refused to seat half the Paul delegation and refused to let Paul speak his own speech, he's lost the Libertarian votes he should have had. After antagonizing our allies overseas, he's alienating his own party.

    September 11, 2012 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  17. Wallace

    If Romney loses, it will be the fault of the GOP, not Gary Johnson.

    The GOP was handed a whole new group of enthusiastic voters that would have pulled in the independents.

    But they chose to insult them and rip them off .

    The GOP made their choice and they, AND ONLY THEY, are responsible if Romney loses.

    BTW: take a look at the Electoral Map -Popular vote aside, Romney will have to pull off a few miracles to win.

    Doesn't look good Neocons.


    September 11, 2012 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  18. john brown

    Uh, writer..."much-of-a-shot?" You would hyphenate these words only if you were using them in adjectival form,
    which you are not. Brush up on your writing, PLEASE. Spoiled the article for me right from the start.

    September 11, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  19. IO

    Epic Failure!

    This article once again fails to address the true issue. The "spoiler" that they are claiming is not in Gary Johnson, but rather the Republican party's complete failure to nominate a real candidate. I would blame this on the voters, but it has become crystal clear that the votes cast have been tampered with, and one has only to look at the crap that took place at the RNC to see that both the Republican party, and Romney's political team are working together to hand pick him as the nominee.

    When you allow that type of corruption to occur, you will always wind up with a slimy DB candidate that nobody likes.

    When Romney loses in November, all these news pundits will point to Ron Paul, or Gary Johnson, or Ralph Nader as the "spoilers." The real truth of the matter is that the Republican party is completely corrupt, and selected a corrupt candidate. They spoiled their own chances, just don't have the balls to deal with that fact.

    September 11, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  20. Non Libertarians

    Johnson is going to be like Ralph Nader and cost Romney any chance at the election. The tin foil hat crack pots of the GOP will be the undoing of their party.

    September 11, 2012 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  21. Seattle11

    Mr. Johnson has just as much right to run for the Presidency as Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney does.

    September 11, 2012 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  22. RandyMarshCT

    That's nonsense. It is an intentional spoiler. I'm either voting for Gary Johnson or Ron Paul. You think that takes away from Romney? You are dead wrong. I would never vote for Romney in a million years, he is not a conservative and I do not trust him. I'm voting libertarian, knowing full well that neither of these two men have a chance, to prove to the Republican party that I am ashamed of them and their choice of a candidate. I am a registered republican (shamefully at this point) and I would NEVER, NEVER, NEVER vote for Romney. Keep pretending that these guys take votes from him... and keep being wrong. What I want to know is, why the heck isn't there a candidate for president that is against war? P!ss!ng away hundreds of billions of dollars trying to police the world is the biggest contributor to our nation's poor economic health. Anyone who votes for either of these war-mongers is part of the problem. At this point, if Barack Obama said he would pull out troops out of Syria and refuse to go to war with Iran, I would vote for him... and that's saying a lot. This article is complete nonsense. Quit fighting each other (left & right). We're all in this sinking ship together, and in the next year I promise you all that we'll see the prices of commodities double. Things are going to get tough, regardless of who is elected.

    September 11, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  23. AnnsTheMan!

    1.) Let Mr. Johnson run. He's earned it. He actually has a great record. He just isn't a paid for party person. 2.) He won't 7%, and if he does, he's more valuable than Mittens.

    September 11, 2012 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  24. showmethemoney

    If he gets to 5%, don't current rules mean that they have to include him in the debates? Maybe then the candidates could talk about more than birth certificates and tax returns.

    September 11, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  25. Lyin Ryan should be an Olympian

    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 |
    Sorry Ol Tex, that dog don't hunt. You see, this story is giving you a false sense of a horse race. The popular vote and most certainly the electoral college vote shows a brewing absolute butt-kicking for your shrinking party coming up in Nov.
    Simply put, your party is a dying breed, a tarnished brand. You can't keep on nominating weak flip flop liars as candidates. You can't keep alienating women, minorities, youth, GLBT, middle class, and educated voting bloc. The key stat that the MSM won't tell you is that the "battleground states" show a huge shift to Obama in the last two weeks due to a great DNC that spelled out how they will represent the interests of a big tent and a hliariously poor RNC that was long on hate and short on substance. This one won't be close and wouldn't be close even with the absence of Gary Johnson. No excuses, tell your party to get better, not bitter.

    September 11, 2012 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
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