Election 2012

Gary Johnson Could Take 6 Percent of the Vote


The September Reason-Rupe Poll interviewed 1,006 Americans on landline and cellphones. Among the 787 respondents who said they definitely planned to vote in November, 6 percent plan to vote for Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson when given the option. Problematically for Johnson, few ballots actually list only three candidates. For instance, this Ohio ballot lists 8 presidential candidates.

Nevertheless, including Gary Johnson in a presidential match-up demonstrates that he takes votes from both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, three percent from each. Johnson voters are overwhelmingly unfavorable toward both candidates; 71 percent have unfavorable opinions of Obama and 61 percent are unfavorable toward Romney.

Johnson Voters

Fifty-seven percent of Johnson voters self identify as politically independent. When asked if they lean toward one of the major political parties, 53 percent lean toward the Republicans and 38 percent lean toward the Democrats. Only 10 percent say they are completely Independent. In sum, Johnson voters are most likely to be Independent-leaning Republicans.

Forty-one percent of Johnson voters self-identify as libertarian. Only 14 percent self-identify as conservative and 10 percent self-identify as liberal. Using the Reason-Rupe ideological typology, 65 percent of Johnson voters are libertarian, the remainder is liberal or conservative, and none are communitarian.


Another way to slice the data is to look at libertarians, as defined by the Reason-Rupe ideological typology. These libertarian respondents said that government should not promote a particular set of values and that people are better able to handle complex economic problems within a free market with less government involvement. When only provided two-options for president, 77 percent of likely libertarian voters say they plan to vote for Romney, 20 percent plan to vote for Obama. However, when Gary Johnson is included as a third option, he receives 14 percent of the libertarian vote. Johnson also captures voters from both Romney and Obama. Obama's libertarian share declines from 20 percent to 13 percent and Romney's declines from 77 to 70.

Nationwide telephone poll conducted September 13th-17th on both landline and cell phones, 1006 adults, margin of error +/- 3.8%. The sample also includes 787 likely voters, with a margin of error of +/- 4.3%. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full methodology can be found here. Full poll results found here.

NEXT: Chicago Fed Leader Calls for More Easing

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “If the 2012 presidential election were held TODAY and the candidates were” poll adds up to 101% in the Gary Johnson column.

  2. i dig coolidge, goldwater, and reagan. these days, ron paul’s my ideal, and gary johnson comes close. but the spread between the GOP nominee and his democrat opponent is a bit wider than most years, mostly because obama’s a disaster (so is boehner, ahem). romney has talent, but he has been slow to learn, and weak in defense of conservative and libertarian principles. some good news: he’s finally showing some spine, and signs of ‘getting it.’ defending free speech should appeal to us all. paul ryan is capable of finding the right road. alas, johnson has no shot at winning, and neither major party candidate is deserving of the presidency. one, though, makes a better rubber stamp. this is what we’re voting for in 2012: a signature.

    1. friends of liberty, it’s the results of ongoing, and noticeable improvements being made within the ranks of the GOP that you really get by voting for romney. an obama win slams the brakes on the successes of tea party grassroots movements. it halts the growing influence of fiscal conservatives, and those who have given liberty more than just lip service. we’re trying to turn around the titantic. alas, the titantic doesn’t turn on a dime, but that shouldn’t keep us from trying. in 2012, it’s a reverse coat-tails presidency that is in play. mcconnell is the minority leader, but ron paul’s campaign chief just joined his staff, and let’s face it, demint and rand paul run the GOP senate. imagine if they run a GOP led senate. now imagine if they have to work with obama or romney. it’s time to reward the tea-party, constitution conservatives, and libertarian ranks of the GOP for holding firm against bogus charges of ‘obstructionism,’ over the last two years. they (us!) are faced with being blamed and cast out if obama gets re-elected. instead, they deserve a vote of confidence and direction (for them, and the tepid romney). please reward them with what we need in order to have a shot at the long road back toward defending the constitution and liberty: the house, senate, and white house. we need a signature, not a president:let’s give romney four years to prove he can sign what the house and senate send to his desk. if he can’t, please do run again in 2016, gary johnson.

  3. Thanks for the article. The poll misdefines pro-libertarians, and other studies show when not voting libertarian they lean liberal or Green. Libertarian activists in the field know better. Studies show that Lib candidates mostly bring out new voters equally from all types with a heavy amount of indepoendents who otherwise would not vote.

    For info on people using voluntary Libertarian tools on similar and other issues, please see the non-partisan Libertarian International Organization @ http://www.Libertarian-International.org ….

  4. So 6% of the voting population supports Johnson. Pretty scary really. 94% of the voting population in America is dumb enough to vote for Obama or Romney. What does it say when only 6% support a candidate like Johnson. Not much hope for America. Like Romney said, Obama has 47% locked down already. The government teet will not be denied.

  5. The 3 percent each figure makes me pause. I would logically think those people would be conservative, like most Independents, and therefore would take more votes from Romney. Of course, this could be accounted for by pro-choice Independents. (Johnson is pro-choice.)
    What is definitely not being accounted for is the number of Ron Paul write-in’s. I can assure you that Paul voters are ALL conservative, so they are taking ZERO votes from Obama and LOTS of votes from Romney.

  6. thanks you very good nice admin room’s comment’s cinsel chat & chat sohbet gary johnson could

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.