Gary Johnson

Before Gary Johnson Can Debate Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, He Needs to Be Included in Polls

To be included in debate, a candidate must be polling at 15 percent in five mainstream news polls, only one of which currently includes Johnson.

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William Weld Gary Johnson
Matt Welch

The most straightforward way for a third party presidential candidate to challenge the two-party system is to get into the presidential debates held in the month prior to the general election. But for candidates working outside that system, that's no easy task.

Since 2000, gaining entrance to those debates has required reaching 15 percent in the polls by an unspecified date that's generally around Labor Day. That means that an outsider candidacy has just a few months to appear on the same political horse-race polls which the major party candidates have been included on for more than a year.

This is the challenge faced by the Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld, which is currently deemed not viable enough by most of the major media companies who conduct the polls that will determine whether or not the two re-elected former governors (who will almost certainly be on the ballot in all 50 states this November) are "serious" enough candidates to share the debate stage with Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and their running mates. 

The American voting public has clamored for a viable third party option for years. According to Gallup, except for one brief dip under 50 percent, a majority of Americans have believed the country needs a legitimate third option since 2007. Yet the self-fulfilling prophecy that a vote for a third party is a wasted vote is conjured up by a number of factors, which are more institutional than ideological.

First, nothing bestows legitimacy on a candidate quite like appearing on a main debate stage. Forget the jockeying by Republican also-rans such as Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina, who repeatedly tried to claw their way into earning the coveted tenth spot in the recent interminable series of GOP debates.

Instead, consider what Ross Perot accomplished in 1992.

Without the backing of any political party, and after running an unusual, truncated campaign during which he dropped out in July only to re-appear in October, Perot still appeared in all 3 presidential debates with then-President George H.W. Bush and then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton. The eccentric Texas billionaire eventually managed to win 19 percent of the popular vote. No third party or independent candidate has appeared on a main debate stage since. When Perot ran again in 1996, he didn't appear in the debates, and he only won about eight percent of the popular vote. The message is clear: getting on that debate stage matters.

According to The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD)'s website, the 2016 criteria requires a candidate to be "Constitutionally eligible," to appear on enough state ballots to have "a mathematical chance of winning a majority vote in the Electoral College," and to "have a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations" sometime after Labor Day, "but sufficiently in advance of the first-scheduled debate to allow for orderly planning."

It's that last part that creates such a conundrum for third party candidates. 

In 2012, the CPD used polls from ABC News/The Washington Post, NBC News/The Wall Street Journal, CBS News/The New York Times, Fox News and Gallup. The Commission has not yet announced which polls will determine 2016 general election debate participants yet. Of these polls, only Fox News has included Johnson so far in 2016. 

Yet last March, a poll conducted by Monmouth University put Gary Johnson at 11 percent in a three-way race with Trump and Clinton. And this is with three-quarters of respondents saying they "don't know enough about him to form an opinion." Johnson, who has filed a joint lawsuit with the Green Party's Jill Stein and others against the CPD for what they describe as collusion with the two major parties, has argued that given the unfavorables of Trump and Clinton, plus the growing number of independents, he would be polling far higher if only he were included in national polls. 

In a video chat at FiveThirtyEight, polling analysts Nate Silver and Harry Enten seem to agree with Johnson:

harry: I'm of the belief that pollsters should at least offer Johnson as an option to some respondents. Otherwise pollsters are putting their thumb on the scale, in my opinion. Johnson has more electoral experience than Trump does. Why isn't he serious?

natesilver: I agree. Some pollsters don't like to include third-party candidates because, for a variety of reasons, polls sometimes overstate their numbers. But it's not a pollster's job, in my view, to take that choice away from the voter when they'll have it on the ballot. They can always ask the question both ways, too — with Johnson and without. 

Chris Jackson of the market research firm Ipsos tells Reason that the decisions on which candidates are included in their polls are "driven by our media partner, Reuters," but that he expects that Johnson will now likely be included in certain polling questions. Jackson says that "in earlier phases, we tend not to include third party candidates because there's just so much in the air" and the limited space they have on surveys needs to be managed somehow.

When I asked Gary Langer of Langer Research Associates (which conducts the ABC News/Washington Post polls) about the challenges faced by third party candidates in trying to make it into big-time polls, he said that even though he conducts political horserace polling, he thinks "it would be better if we tried to smarten up polling" and not focus so much on what he says is a "misguided"* question: "Who would you vote for if the election were held today?" Langer thinks that question bears little indication on how people will actually vote on Election Day.

Langer also is unconvinced that there is a "bandwagon effect," where candidates appear to be riding high in polls, and that that alone is enough to propel them all the way to the White House. He points to Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton's formidable early leads in the 2008 election polling as examples of how "campaigns matter" and that candidates with little support, like Donald Trump last summer, come to the forefront once "the public comes to a decision" about a candidate.

Cato Institute research fellow Emily Ekins, the former polling director for the Reason Foundation (the non-profit which publishes this website), says she doesn't believe it's inherently unfair that Johnson hasn't been included in most 2016 polls to date, because even with his experience as New Mexico's governor he only won about one percent of the vote when he ran as the Libertarian Party presidential candidate in 2012. 

But, Ekins adds, Clinton and Trump "are underwater with their unfavorables" and the fact that so many "political elites — whether they are grassroots activists or journalists or lawmakers or policy wonks" find both major party candidates so unlikable that they are actively searching for a third party alternative, and that this is affecting how the media covers third parties, which will also affect how they are polled.

Still, the fifteen percent threshold is extremely difficult to reach, particularly when competing against major party candidates who have been included in polling for more than a year.

George Farah, the executive director of Open Debates, told CBS News in 2012 that it is not necessary to let the hundreds of candidates who have filed papers with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) onto the debate stage. If the CPD lowered the polling threshold to just five percent, a more varied set of political representation at the debates would be provided.

Farah also noted that this standard would have allowed Perot to debate Bill Clinton and Bob Dole in 1996, and Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader would have been able to provide an alternative to Al Gore and George W. Bush in 2000. But that's it. It's not like Vermin Supreme would be making a mockery of the process if the door were opened just a bit wider for third party candidates, five percent is still a plenty high bar to set.

And given that the current (supposedly) respectable major party choices consist of an incoherent, bloviating reality TV star and a former secretary of state currently being investigated by the FBI, a little variety at the debates can't be a bad thing.

*-This post has been updated to correct an error made in this particular quote. 

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  1. To be included in debate, a candidate must be polling at 15 percent in five mainstream news polls

    Hmm. Sounds like the Johnson supporters had better start roughing up the debate organizers.

    1. How about offering to fade bets for or against the LP over at Paddypower or Oddschecker? Those honest gamblers are OUTSIDE the jurisdiction of The Kleptocracy. But the internet lets folks see the correct odds: God’s Own Prohibitionists are 2 to 1 losers and Hillary’s pro-choice party is 2 to 1 to win and place. But legalized gambling already has “Independent” (what the vote-counters call us) showing at 33 to 1 odds. With a candidate and the better platform, perhaps we could get into the gambling stakes that prove pollsters are liars bought with tax dollars thanks to Tricky Dick Nixon (and the Dems).

  2. Establishment pundits just aren’t into polling with Johnson.

  3. Not even sure you’d want GJ in the debates with those two sharks. GayJay the great shark hunter. Not seeing it.

    1. I don’t think I want Johnson at the debates. He would be the “symbol” of libertarianism, yet what I hear is that he is a terrible debater and boring. He will just get eaten alive by Trump setting the LP back in the public’s eye

      1. Yeah, invisibility has worked much better so far.

        1. Invisiblity works better than someone who clearly has no concept of libertarianism “representing” the rest of us and destroying the movement forever.

          1. I’m inclined to agree with Vic…

      2. Agreed. The public is pissed off and any point Johnson would win in a normal cycle would be drowned out by the bombs Hillary and Donald will be throwing.

        1. A portion of the public is pissed off. GJ is never going to win them. But I think a portion of the public would like to see a more diplomatic tone than Trump and someone more trustworthy than Clinton. GJ might be able to capture some of those people.

          1. Hey, I can’t criticize GJ too much given he’s out there giving it a shot. Much more than I’ll ever do. Point is people, myself included, want a fighter and that just isn’t in his DNA. Also, I’d like to see him arguing from first principles more often, but I’m he seems to enjoy arguing from pragmatism. I have my doubts how effective that will be.

            1. pragmatism is what the current political climate is missing. political parties only have the luxury of sticking to hardcore principles when they control all branches of government. (and the outcome of that is typically worse than them getting nothing done at all)

            2. Whenever he’s asked about first principles he looks like a deer in the headlights.

              The LP has graduated to the Big Leagues by nominating a wind-sock. Will anyone notice?

              1. One thing I’ve learnt is that an audience loves courageousness, the candidate will get respect for just standing in front of a crowd regardless. For a 3rd party to actually be recognized at a debate, that’s going to be an honorable thing from the get go.

                Easy immigration, gun rights, and abolishment of federal programs are radical enough to secure the party’s values. And honestly, the platform being compromised would continue to be an ongoing risk if the Libertarian party were to ever gain a strong following.

      3. Johnson doesn’t have to be a great debater, or a great advocate for liberty. He just has to show that he’s qualified, sensible and a serious candidate. Voters will leave Trump-Clinton in droves.

  4. Cato Institute research fellow Emily Ekins, the former polling director for the Reason Foundation (the non-profit which publishes this website), says she doesn’t believe it’s inherently unfair that Johnson hasn’t been included in most 2016 polls to date

    Emily, you have let us down. Sad.

  5. Begin mock debates today! GJ only needs 3 things to be prepared: practice, practice, and practice. Hopefully he can polish his oratory and debate skills for show time.

  6. I love Ron Paul, but his debating skills failed to give his positions/philosophy the oomph they could have had. I think GJ would do just fine against the Ds and the Rs.

    1. Ron Paul was a debate ninja. Sincerity trumps style.

      1. Yep, Ron Paul brought millions of young people into knowledge of libertarian ideas, totally poor performance! 😉

        Gary Johnson …. oh yeah …. yawn …. you were saying something?

  7. Good article. I am a GJ supporter and I have faith that by end of the summer he will be in good shape poll-wise.

    I don’t understand why the Judge overseeing the lawsuit is so slow to move it forward. I have not seen a single investigative article about the lawsuit. Why?

    1. Might be the judge will be buying a new yacht this Summer.

  8. The 15% threshold is too high. A reasonable compromise would be allow any candidate contesting enough states to have an arithmetic chance of winning into at least one debate. There should probably be one debate in which only the two leading candidates go head to head. The intervening debates could have a makeup that varies from year to year depending on polling.

    1. The LP has to spend $350k to get on all 50 ballots. If we are talking about serious candidates with viable backing, that would seem to be a good indicator if one were interested in finding it.

      1. Good point Brochettaward. But, of course, they are NOT interested in finding serious opponents to their two fascists.

    2. Just limit it to candidates who are on the ballot in all 50 states, since it’s a national debate. That seems plenty high enough of a bar.

    3. The primary debates use a 1 percent threshold to keep out the riff-raff. Seems reasonable enough.

  9. I just now noticed that awful tie that Weld is wearing. I could grudgingly live with him being the VP nominee before, but that tie is a deal breaker.

    1. Not the deal being a tie breaker?

    2. Not that he is a tax raising RINO?

      The tie is the deal breaker!

  10. The authoritarian political class(Democrats and Republicans) write the rules so they can control the results. The media lackeys won’t tell how any other party is polling because they have been told not to. The few network libertarians keep their collective mouths shut so they don’t lose their big buck jobs. I really expected more of the Kennedys and Cavutos out there. If Reason and other small government publishers really want to help this country then stop with all the government generated news for a few months and start ripping the Establishment apart. I know the IRS and FCC will be on your collective butts but when the USA becomes next failed socialist dictatorship it will be on your heads. Now personally I wouldn’t want to go to my grave knowing I had the means to possibly save my country and did nothing. Remember the woman in San Bernardino who thought her neighbors were up to something but did nothing; well that is the cross she will bare until she dies. Please just think about it.

  11. Clinton and Trump “are underwater with their unfavorables” and the fact that so many “political elites ? whether they are grassroots activists or journalists or lawmakers or policy wonks” find both major party candidates so unlikable that they are actively searching for a third party alternative, and that this is affecting how the media covers third parties, which will also affect how they are polled.

    I find this profoundly disturbing because it seems unfixable. Because the elites themselves think an alternative is worth considering this year, then an alternative should be included this year? This is top-downism at its most subversive. And that it is being used to ‘consider’ a Libertarian ticket that can be already criticized as ‘too establishment oriented’ already? And in all honesty where the policies we libertarians advocate are generally either irrelevant or already established consensus.

    Classical liberalism ultimately died because in acquiring power it failed to keep checking that power – to remain cognizant that even classical liberalism in power could have unintended consequences (or Cobra effect or Campbells Law) that serves to undermine basic liberal ideas.

  12. It’s like Captain Kirk in that movie – the only way to win is to change the program.

    The CPD is a joint operation of the Rs and Ds, it’s a tentacle of the duopoly, why should *any* third party want to cater to them?

    Stossel should invite *all* candidates – including 3rd party candidates – to a debate. If Hillary and Trump don’t show up, get Republican and Democratic celebrities as stand-ins making the case for their favorite candidate. Find celebrities who want/need to be on TV, so they won’t be intimidated by operatives telling them “not to legitimize those fringe parties!”

    The publicize the heck out of the debate and have reporters ask the candidates, “why would you have these celebrities speak for you instead of showing up yourself?”

    What would Hillary and Trump say? “We told those celebrities not to take part, we didn’t want to be involved in those debates at all!”

    “Oh, so you *don’t* want to debate your third-party opponents? Are you scared?”

    1. “The CPD is a joint operation of the Rs and Ds”

      It’s a private organization. Why shouldn’t another organization, reaching out to a larger audience, rise to challenge them? What’s to stop competition in the market from solving this? Or is it that elections are too important to be left to the market?

      I like the idea of celebrity stand-ins. I suggest the use of little know actors who would resemble their candidates in appearance, voice and mannerisms.

      1. Why shouldn’t another organization, reaching out to a larger audience, rise to challenge them? What’s to stop competition in the market from solving this?

        Because the FEC (which is itself governed by R’s and D’s vetted by CPD and the respective national committees) has been captured. Its debate rules were written by CPD – but are not enforced against CPD. They WILL be enforced against any challenger (specifically re media and financing).

        And more importantly, the mass media has already been bought. They don’t put these free-media debates on out of some notion of public service. They do it as a loss leader and a ‘credibility improver’ for the billion+ dollars that will be given to them for advertising. Any media that leaves the corral will be punished. Which is why the 2012 debate that did include all the third-parties was broadcast by CSPAN (cuz DC is SO competitive in elections), RT and AlJazeera (cuz Russia and Bahrain are critical purple states).

        1. It’s not a campaign donation if it’s news. If someone has candidates debating, that’s a news event.

        2. “the mass media has already been bought”

          More than the media has been bought. It wasn’t the media who arrested Jill Stein, 3rd party candidate from last time around. If she’d been joined by other 3rd party candidates who were willing to put their freedom on the line, and the bunch of them decided to conduct what’s left of their campaigns from prison cells, we might be getting somewhere. I suspect these 3rd party types are hobbyists and not willing to risk or sacrifice their freedom for the cause. Until that changes, the status quo will prevail.

      2. It’s a private organization.

        But it’s presiding over the disposition of a public asset and influencing the outcome of elections.

        What’s to stop competition in the market from solving this?

        Excluding other candidates from the debates is in the interest of both Republican and Democratic candidates, and they collude with the CPD and media to make that come about. A market could only stop this if people could simply walk away and ignore an elected president they didn’t like, but since everybody is forced to live under the president chosen by this process, whether they like the process or not, markets can’t operate and the collusion works.

        1. I still don’t understand what is to stop you from hiring a hall, inviting the candidates you’d like to see, and hosting a debate. If your plan is better than that of the CPD, with candidates people want to see, you’ll get the audience, even if it’s over the internet rather than traditional broadcast media.

          1. what is to stop you from hiring a hall, inviting the candidates you’d like to see, and hosting a debate.

            The FEC. Reagan’s ‘I am paying for this microphone’ moment was a direct consequence of the FEC intervening in a newspaper sponsored debate. And while that single statement may have won him the Prez, the FEC has learned in the interim. They will

            If your plan is better than that of the CPD, with candidates people want to see, you’ll get the audience, even if it’s over the internet rather than traditional broadcast media.

            The candidates themselves have signed agreements with their party natl committee re debates and any multicandidate stuff – and the natl committees and CPD are the same thing. So any non-CPD debate will include only third parties like 2012 – which means no one will watch so no one will broadcast so who cares?

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  14. Sorry Reason, I think Perot made it on because Clinton needed him to be there.

    1. Perot got a glowing bio-story on 60 Minutes in prime time. There was no concerted effort by the media to stop him.

      1. Exactly, Clinton needed him to use any libertarian rise in popularity to split the GOP vote. No smearing or ignoring like Goldwater or Paul (quickly what came to mind).

  15. The entire purpose of the “commission on presidential debates” is to make sure that no Ruling Party hack ever has to debate an actual challenger. The Ruling Party took the debates out of the hands of the League of Women Voters because they were furious at having to face Ross Perot. If Gary polls at 15%, they’ll raise the threshold to 30%. If he polls at 30, they’ll raise it to 60.

    -jcr

    1. That assumes that Gary Johnson is actually a ‘challenge’ to those making the decision about what number the threshold will be. From a policy or ‘mandate’ perspective, what exactly is that challenge?

      1. The challenge is having a sane, qualified alternative to Trump-Clinton that doesn’t want to bomb half the world.

        1. The voters role is to peck a lever. I’m not talking about what may induce them to peck a different lever. That’s not the ‘challenge’ I’m talking about. A ‘challenge’ for the elites is losing their jobs/influence over how power is applied between elections. I don’t see any of these three – Trump/Clinton/Johnson – hiring many of their tens of thousands of advisors/implementors/etc from outside the already-existing Acela corridor and the existing revolving door system. Johnson is going to be ‘skeptical’. OK this just implies that he’s gonna have kind of the same advisors but is gonna ask them more difficult questions.

          Meet the new boss same as the old boss. Where is the real challenge to anything?

    2. The entire purpose of letting GJ onto the debate stage is to ruin the image of Libertarians publicly on their very first shot at the stage…. the only thing trump has to do to disembowel GJ is to bring up his gunbanning sociopathic VP choice, or the Nazi cakes comment, or the ban the burqua stuff to show that GJ is antithetical to liberty and doesnt even support his own ideology and therefore must be treated as a joke. the only thing Clinton needs to do is keep fueling GJ to keep him in the race long enough to siphon the “never trump republican” voters from trump…. honestly its stupidity at this point for TPTB to keep him off the stage, i know if i was evil as fuck and running the shadow government I would definitely relish the opportunity to destroy the LP and get my chosen puppet elected. Johnson/Weld are the death of the LP and only getting them onto the debate stage to be ripped to shreds on their own parties principles will kill the liberty movement for long enough to push for all out police state. its seriously the dumbest thing the LP has ever done

      1. Nice hyperventilation. The LP has only rarely gotten more votes on election day than it takes signatures to get ballot access. Which tells me that the parts of the LP that are actually effective stop working once they get on the ballot. And the rabid dog parts of the LP do not have even the slightest self-awareness of how they appear to everyone else. So they pretend that others ‘failure’ to vote LP (or join the LP) is about the failure of liberty as an idea instead of their own failure to act a bit more lucid than a crazy homeless person yelling at fire hydrants.

  16. Nixon signed IRS Code paying the media to ignore the LP back in 1971. But did Weaver and Field get included in debates before carrying 5 states with 8.5% of the popular vote? No. They and the religious conservative prohibitionist were defeated by Grover Cleveland. Still, looter party spoiler vote totals convinced the incoming Congress to again pass the progressive income tax set forth in communist manifesto plank 2. Those debates sparked the Panic of 1893, which heralded the Crash and Depression caused by passage of that income tax. Now that religious prohibitionism AND communism are clear and present dangers to the economy, thanks to the Herb Hoover and both Bush-dynasty asset-forfeiture crashes, we stand poised to force the repeal of many bad laws. Voters need only vote for WHAT they want instead of WHO the teevee says.

  17. The 2012 results are irrelevant. Trump-Clinton wasn’t running in 2012.

  18. I would encourage all loyal libertarians to help in this cause by contacting the major polling companies and urging them to include Johnson in the debates. I myself e-mailed 10 polling companies yesterday.

    The size limits of allowable comments prevent me from posting my entire e-mail, but the highlights to hit are:

    *Historic dissatisfaction with the major party candidates.
    *The LP will be the only other party on all 50 state ballots.
    *Johnson’s message of fiscal conservatism coupled with social tolerance is one that resonates with large percentages of the population.
    *The Johnson/Weld ticket is the most credible the LP has ever run, featuring 2 ex-governors who got elected, and re-elected, as Republicans in states with large Democratic majorities, showing broad appeal across the political spectrum. Both received high marks while in office.
    *The CPD 15% threshold is virtually impossible to meet if they are not included in the polls.
    *Johnson was already over 10% in several polls even before officially securing the nomination, and before adding a heavyweight like Weld to his ticket.

    1. Excellent points, Jon. How about posting the email contacts for the major polling groups?

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  20. Johnson is included in the following polls (along with his latest polling numbers): Mason-Dixon 6%, Rasmussen 8%, Quinipiac 5%, Detroit News 12% and PPP (D) 6%. That is five polling organizations. Although one might argue that Detroit is not national, let us stop talking about the negative aspects of a third party bid and get Johnson and others in the mainstream media spotlight. We do this by getting the people through social media and the alternative media talking about them. Johnson would easily be a third party candidate with the needed levels required by the CPD if the frustrated public were given an option. Get talking and it can happen. Never in the recent history of American politics has the time been perfect for a third party run. “Americans Cry Out for Third Choice in a Year When Both Candidates Have Record Unfavorables” declares a recent headline on RealClearPolitics. So lets give them one.

    1. Excellent points Charles. I hope people follow your advice.

  21. One small problem with this article is its assumption the Commission on Presidential Debates is a legitimate organization. No, it is not. While perhaps not actually breaking the law (their lawyers are well qualified, in my experience), they are in fact nothing other than a hard core duopoly fully dedicated to keeping all debate power within the clutches of the Democratic and Republican parties.

    This is why three of the 2012 CPD ‘national sponsors’ withdrew in the week before the first debate. They learned they were being taken for a ride, and wanted no part of it (know me by the company I keep). Good for them, and bad for the other seven ‘sponsors,’ who chose to ride out the storm.

    Were the media simply to say phooey on the CPD, we won’t cover anything they do until we know exactly where the money is coming from, the candidates might be brought to heal. When the media doesn’t, they become co-conspirators.

    Sorry to be so negative.

    1. If the media were to say phooey to the CPD, they would find that the billions in election advertising goes elsewhere. If they were to collude in saying phooey to the CPD, they would quickly find themselves facing an anti-trust investigation

      1. Here’s an idea about getting money out of politics: prohibit all advertising during presidential debates, Perhaps, prohibit all advertising during political reporting. How about it?

        1. So, in order to achieve prominence for the Libertarian Party, and/or other alternative candidacies, you’d trample on the First Amendment? No thanks. – Kevin R

  22. To be considered viable in polling, it helps to first be thought to be rational.
    Johnson/Weld has yet to reach that plateau.

    1. To be considered viable in polling, it helps to first be thought to be rational.

      Well, Hillary and Trump clearly are “rational”, in the sense of “rational self-interest” and being able to do anything to increase their own power and wealth. You know, like most tyrants, dictators, and mob bosses in history.

  23. Well, if the mainstream media is judging “serious”, the entire nation continues to wade in deep doo-doo.

    Hillary and Donald are “serious” only to the extent that their political mentor, Benito Mussolini was “serious”. And for those who ran afoul of Benito, he really was. Same with the two “serious” candidates here. We need a peaceful revolution, but we can’t get one with the mainstream media projecting our life on their screen.

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  25. Of course, the situation is chicken-and-egg: once a candidate appears in polls and poll results, people will start looking them up, and their poll numbers will go up.

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  31. On the debate stage, he’ll be the only one supporting free trade, market based healthcare and healthy cuts in spending. That won’t sell in the election year for outsiders and “America first” protectionism.

    Most people watching him debate for the first time will get an impression that he’s a typical republican. He WAS a veto happy republican governor and ran in the GOP primary not that long ago. It’s precisely this kind of track record that makes him so appealing to informed voters who are disillusioned by the other two candidates. But most voters aren’t informed. And being socially liberal isn’t a major plus for a republican if he’s intent on cutting ANYTHING.

    Any exposure is better than none, but unfortunately the voters are motivated AGAINST GJ’s core values. Unlike the center right, the left is not friendly libertarianism. Almost every attack they use against a republican will be repeated against Johnson. Ron Paul and his unfortunate missteps might be dragged back in to the spotlight.

    Given the current political climate an his low energy style, it’s possible that his popularity will decrease if he participated in the debate.

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