Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson Avoids Typical Third-Party Fade; Best Polling Since Perot in '92

Also, 'most third-party candidates didn't lose that much support between late summer and Election Day,' notes FiveThirtyEight

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We have adjusted our expectations higher. ||| Reason
Reason

A couple of weeks ago in this space I pushed back against assertions by FiveThirtyEight number-cruncher Harry Enten that Gary Johnson's polls have been "trending downwards," indicating that "voters may be moving away from third-party options." Well, today Enten is back with an interesting piece headlined "Gary Johnson Isn't Fading."

While noting what we have been warning you about here for years—third-party candidates typically see their crest of polling support halved by Election Day, according to Gallup—Enten explains that Johnson's numbers have so far not followed this pattern. In fact, the Libertarian may have already weathered the most difficult part of the calendar: "Most third-party candidates didn't lose that much support between late summer and Election Day," Enten writes. "Besides John Anderson in 1980, no candidate ended up finishing more than 3 percentage points below where they were polling in late August. The average drop-off is about 2 percentage points."

So how does Johnson's 9 percent stack up at this point in the campaign against other third-party candidates since World War II? According to numbers compiled by Enten here, fourth place, behind Ross Perot in 1992 (20 percent then, finished at 19), George Wallace in '68 (17/14), and Anderson in '80 (14/7). He's just a tick above Perot in '96 (8/8), behind which nobody comes close (sorry, Libertarians!). Because of his staying power, FiveThirtyEight has adjusted its predictions for Johnson's final vote upward, to 7.1 percent.

But what about the debates, I hear you ask. Well, while #TeamGov and its supporters are touting this new Qunnipiac poll showing 62 percent of Americans think the Libertarian should be in next month's televised showdown, that and a glass of water will get you a drink. As Enten notes, Johnson may not be fading, but he's also not particularly rising, either, and there's a whole lotta real estate between 9 and the required 15 percent. The L.P. ticket did reach a new high this week in the Quinnipiac poll (10 percent, up from 8 percent in June), and tied previous highs in polls by NBC News/Survey Monkey (11 percent), Rasmussen Reports (9 percent), and Reuters/Ipsos (7 percent), but at this advanced date, ties go to the loser.

Looking for a glimmer of hope? Here's one intriguing gap in the numerical record. Of the Commission on Presidential Debates' determinative Big Five polls, in which Johnson has been averaging 10 percent instead of 9, none of them have produced results in the last three weeks. Beginning any minute now, we should have a much clearer idea whether the Libertarians are rising in the polls that actually matter.

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  1. Whichever side wins, the other side will argue that the dirty, dirty third party candidates stole the votes that were “rightfully” theirs.

    1. I’m not really sure how valid of an argument that is considering large portions of “their” votes are voting against the other guy/gal…

      1. But you know they’re going to make it.

      2. Um, that’s kind of ironic considering that 99% of Johnson’s voters are simply against Trump and Hillary both, and not FOR Johnson.

        What, you think he has a viable and appealing platform, and that’s why he’s suddenly out of the single-digits? Yeah, no. The Libertarian Party is as big of a joke as it’s ever been, it’s just slightly less of a joke in comparison to the major party candidates this particular time around.

    2. That’s assuming Trump doesn’t lose with a bigger spread than what Johnson pulls.

      1. Given the mess of this election, I’m not so confident candidate X, Y or Z is going to win.

        1. The important thing is that we the voters win by cashing in our libertarian spoiler votes for tax cuts, repeal and deregulation. Voters win when politicians and their soft machines lose. Every libertarian vote goes down in history, and influences platforms, jurisprudence and Supreme Court decisions forever.

        2. Given the mess of this election, we shouldn’t be so sure that the current candidates will still be in it by election day.

      2. Now that’s an abstract euphemism!

    3. That’s the WHOLE POINT! The commies and prohibition party never installed their candidates in the Executive Mansion, but their platform planks made it into the Constitution and have completely wrecked the nation’s economy on at least 6 different occasions. THAT’s clout!
      Anything else is just a wasted vote reinforcing the looter kleptocracy… The “other side” to a looter kleptocracy is freedom!

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  2. I’ve said he’d collapse on election day and I’m going down with this ship!

    1. I still think he’ll be lucky if he gets over 5% barring a complete meltdown in Trumpistan (which is a fairly decent possibility).

      1. He’s not even trying to reach Trump voters.

        Johnson is purely focusing on getting dem votes and votes from disaffected berniebros.

        1. That’s transparently false. There’s no point in trying to reach committed Trump or Clinton voters. Johnson has tried to craft a broad appeal strategy, that includes winning votes from some disaffected Democrats and left-leaning independents (mostly “berniebros”), but also centrists and disaffected Republicans and right-leaning independents. Considering where third parties usually finish, he’s doing pretty well.

          Johnson not solely pandering (in addition to libertarians) to the hardcore conservatives who might not like Trump doesn’t mean he’s just trying to get Democrats. The hardcore conservative demographic is hard to please (for a libertarian at least) and focusing on doing that risks alienating pretty much everyone else (and Johnson abandoning quite a few of his positions). On top of that, this group hates Clinton so much that even if they came to the conclusion that Johnson was a good option and better than Trump, they’re unlikely to actually vote for him because that would be “wasting their vote.”

          1. No. Johnson is positioning himself as a non-corrupt, slightly more moderate alternative to Hillary.

            He’s in favor of gun control, he’s in favor of open borders, he’s pro-aboriton, he’s pro-TPP, and he wants to cut the military. That platform is NOT designed to reach disaffected conservatives.

            Yes, he’s nominally in favor of ‘smaller government’, but that’s an abstract concept to most people and functionally irrelevant considering his positions on major issues. Oh he wants to cut taxes. Yay. He couldn’t even come out in favor of serious cuts to welfare. BEHOLD THE GREAT LIBERTARIAN HOPE.

            1. He’s not in favor of gun control. Weld is, but not Johnson. He’s only open borders in a world where everything short of a wall is considered open borders. Smaller government isn’t functionally irrelevant given his stance on military spending. And since when has cutting taxes been blas? among libertarians?

              Oh, and Johnson/Weld’s website seems to be behind a Chinese firewall but Reason apparently isn’t? That’s just funny.

      2. I really do think there will be a substantial Wikileaks drop incriminating Hillary in something that the media simply can not ignore any longer. I just want that to be now so Gary can get in the debates.

        1. You underestimate the power of willful denial.

  3. That’s it! How many Gary Johnson articles are you guys going to write? It’s not like this is a libertarian site…what’s that? Oh. *slinks away

    1. I’ve taken to clicking on every Gary Johnson article posted to other news sites. All those people care about is clicks and site traffic so — bah, it don’t matter.

  4. Do not trust to hope, it has forsaken these lands.

  5. I’m sincerely interested in third-party candidates getting traction, so this advice is for all of them:

    Don’t wait around for CPD to let you kick the football. That’s a sucker’s game.

    Delegitimize the heck out of the CPD. Frame them as what they are – an assortment of party hacks doing what non-duopolists wouldn’t be able to get away with: Awarding themselves nonprofit ta status while promoting duopoly candidates.

    We know perfectly well what would happen if a prominent nonprofit *opposed* the duopoly (or either wing thereof). The duopolists would unleash the IRS.

    The answer, I argue, is to repeal the Lyndon Johnson Amendment, which politically censors nonprofits in the interest of the duopolists.

    1. Better yet, repeal that AND the Nixon amendment to the IRS Code–where it robs taxpayers at gunpoint to subsidize media ads for NON-libertarian parties. That particular act of Congress (not to say sodomy) occurred within 24 hours of the LP filing papers to organize as a political party. That’s plank 3.6 in the current LP platform, where it adds a touch of class to the whole document.
      Brazil is adopting something similar. Instead of forcing voters to support 33 looter parties and watch their commercials, Brazilians will soon be robbed and frogmarched in to rubber-stamp only the communist, nationalsocialist and prohibition parties.

      1. “That’s plank 3.6 in the current LP platform, where it adds a touch of class to the whole document.”

        They should nominate someone on the Libertarian platform.

        I especially like this part at the end of paragraph 2.1: “For voluntary dealings among private entities, parties should be free to choose with whom they trade and set whatever trade terms are mutually agreeable.”

  6. Hillary’s winning debate strategy

    Mrs. Clinton is not generally known as a stirring speaker, but the moment showcased one of her strengths: the ability to deflate opponents’ arguments with the force of her disdain. We saw it in her face at the 11-hour Benghazi hearings. We saw it in her response to Lincoln Chafee’s strange attempt, in an early debate, to link the Iraq War with her email server (asked if she’d like to respond, she said simply, “no”).

    Yes, please, Mistress Hillary. Show us the true depth of your smarmy condescension and contempt for our intelligence on that debate stage. Give us the full force of your sneering dismissal and disdain. Give us the verbal cat o’ nine tails.

    Voters want that.

  7. Look at that cover picture: smiling, shaking hands, NOT saying anything stoopid… that’s the Gary I’d settle for as candidate-by-elimination. Gary could pull a Jackie Kennedy and memorize the LP platform in Spanish–if that new translation ever gets finished. Opposed to carbon taxes, the income tax… Heck… Puerto Rico might even vote libertarian! In fact, American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Marianas also manage without the IRS federal income tax. Liberdad!

  8. “Of the Commission on Presidential Debates’ determinative Big Five polls, in which Johnson has been averaging 10 percent instead of 9, none of them have produced results in the last three weeks.”

    Almost makes you wonder if he’s getting close to, or has reached that 15% in those polls and they are doing everything in their power to manipulate the numbers for the duopoly.

    (Tin foil hat off)

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  10. The 15% number is nothing but the Commission on Presidential Debate’s firewall. It is not designed to be breached, and if perchance it were rest assured the CPD has more than one back up plan.

    The key this year is to get the Hofstra students to demand the CPD be removed from the debates, and the debates controlled by an honest body (of which there are many fine alternatives – even the Hofstra student newspaper could do a more honest job of it than the CPD, judging by the intelligent response I received from one of their reporters).

    This will permanently end the atrocious CPD monopoly, forever.

    If Hofstra students don’t do it, there are still three more universities whose students may be interested in restoring democracy to the presidential elections, and becoming folk heroes in the process.

  11. Fuck this twit. The BEST he can hope for is to elect the utterly evil Hitlary. If you are not ACTUALL serious, bow the fuck out.

  12. We are fighting for the Republic, people. Not the Democratic Mob Rule ideal, but the “Hey, you might just be right!” ideal of the “right”, the “you know, the you may actually know what is right for you!” party vs the “We ALWAYS know what is best, so STFU party.”.

    Libertarians and real conservatives are not that far apart. All the leftists, modern day dems, are EXACTLY the opposite. They think you know nothing. Only the gubment knows what you want / need.

  13. Didn’t he lose by even more than expected? (And, yes, we vote FOR his ass, what choice did we have?).

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