Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson Needs to Average 25% in His Next Two Polls to Qualify for the Debates

ABC/Washington Post poll comes in at 9%, leaving the Libertarian far short of 15% before Judgment Day


After more than a month of silence, the ABC News/Washington Post national presidential poll, which is one of the five selected by the Republican/Democrat-controlled Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) to determine eligibility for this fall's televised gabfests, came out with a new survey this morning that puts another nail in the coffin of Gary Johnson's debate hopes.

The Libertarian nominee set a new high in the poll, at 9 percent (Hillary Clinton was at 46 percent, Donald Trump at 41, and Jill Stein at 2), but that only brings his five-poll average to 9.0 percent, with less than a week to go before the CPD's deadline of "mid September." With only two of the other polls (CBS News and NBC/Wall Street Journal) due for a new survey between now and then, that means Johnson would have to average 25 percent in each to achieve a five-poll average of 15.0 percent. He has yet to produce a national number higher than 13 percent. It's no wonder that the Johnson/Bill Weld ticket signaled a new debate strategy yesterday in New York: Drum up outrage at their non-inclusion by hosting live answer sessions outside of each debate this fall.

Other interesting tidbits in this morning's poll:

* Johnson is competitive with Trump among voters under the age of 40, pulling 17 percent compared to the Republican's 24 (Clinton dominates with 47 percent; Stein lags at 8). This is consistent with the Libertarian's campaign-long trend of doing disproportionately well with the youngest blocs of voters.

* Third-party backers are "far more apt than either Clinton or Trump supporters to say they might change their minds by Election Day. Just 15 percent of Clinton and Trump supporters say they could change their minds, vs. 55 percent of Johnson's and Stein's." This would suggest that the typical third-party fade, which unusually did not befall Johnson and Stein over the summer, could yet take place should the Clinton-Trump race tighten.

* The poll was conducted between Sept. 5-8, meaning that only the last day could have possibly been impacted by Johnson blanking on the name Aleppo during a Morning Joe interview Thursday morning. While I have my strong doubts that the incident will negatively impact Johnson's poll results, we just don't have enough evidence in yet. Morning Consult is the only other poll to sample during the period (Sept. 6-8), and there Johnson set a new four-candidate high this week of 10 percent, though he had finished as high as 12 percent in that survey before Jill Stein's name was added. (UPDATE: The latest Breitbart/Gravis poll, which questioned voters Sept. 7-8, was published this afternoon, and showed Johnson at 7 percent, up from 4 percent Aug. 22-23, though down from his high of 9 percent Aug. 9 [Gravis has had more extreme swings for Johnson than any other poll].) Though he's certainly putting a brave face on things, vice presidential nominee William Weld told me yesterday that "not only has our fundraising increased in the two days since Aleppo morning, but the amount of attention and name-recognition that Gary has garnered is just through the roof!"

Johnson this past week also hit a new poll-high for NBC/Survey Monkey (12 percent), and tied his highs with Rasmussen Reports (9 percent) and Reuters/Ipsos (8 percent), while backsliding in the crucial Big-Five survey by CNN/ORC (7 percent). His campaign also made headlines by polling north of 15 percent in a whopping 15 states. Expect to see those states targeted more and more by both the campaign and its supporting SuperPACs, as the focus inevitably turns toward moving the needle locally and even trying to pick off a state or two.