Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson Continues to Avoid the Third-Party Fade

The Libertarian maintains support while the Green recedes, as the campaign enters what has historically been the best stretch for third-party candidates.


The Wall Street Journal does a nice job today mashing up Gallup's useful historical charts of third-party presidential polling, which has shown consistent, across-the-board collapses between mid-June and mid-September, with this year's numbers from Libertarian Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, which have shown no such thing. Take a look:

||| Wall Street Journal/Gallup
Wall Street Journal/Gallup

Ipsos President of U.S. Public Affairs Clifford Young tells the Journal that, "I believe this year third parties will outperform the historical average," and the Johnson/Stein data above certainly support that claim, but what of the 50 blank days going forward?

Two things jump out from the chart: 1) Check out those October bounces for Perot (twice) and even Ralph Nader, before a last-ditch November collapse, despite the fact that only '92 Perot was allowed to participate in the presidential debates. 2) If you squint really hard at the most recent trends for Johnson and Stein, there's a suggestion that things seem to be inching downward.

Are they really? Let's check. So in mid-August, when the Commission on Presidential Debates named the five national polls it would be averaging to determine whether third-party candidates met its (arbitrarily high) 15 percent threshold, Johnson across those five polls was averaging 9.8 percent, Stein 4.7 percent in the three polls that then included her. With the long-awaited release yesterday of the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which had the percentages at 43-37-9-3 for Clinton-Trump-Johnson-Stein, that knocks the five-poll averages for Johnson-Stein to 8.2 percent and 2.8 percent. So that's definitely downward, right?

For Stein, yes. For Johnson, it's slightly less clear, because of the inevitably downward effect of adding Jill Stein as an option in two of the polls (in the three other polls, his decline was more modest, from 9.0 percent to 8.3 percent). The polls have also begun graduating from "registered voters" to "likely voters," which alters the results slightly in an anti-third-party direction.

But to answer the question more thoroughly than the Big Five basket allows, I cobbled together an apples-to-apples comparison of the last two polls from 11 different agencies that have A) conducted their most recent survey in September, and B) included Jill Stein in both. The 11 polls include four of the Big Five (NBC/WSJ, Fox News, CNN/ORC, and ABC News/Washington Post), plus Reuters/Ipsos, Economist/YouGov, NBC News/Survey Monkey, Quinnipiac, Morning Consult, Gravis Marketing/Breitbart, and Pew Research Center. Here are the latest new-poll averages for Johnson and Stein, versus the averages for those same polls the time before:

NEW: GJ 8.6%*, JS 2.7%

OLD: GJ 8.5%*, JS 3.5%

To be honest, I am surprised by those numbers. Not Stein's evident slippage in the face of a tightening election (and subsequent heightened scrutiny of her views), but Johnson's lack thereof. Now, it could be that Hillary Clinton's ham-handed Millennials panic could nevertheless lure some anti-Trump young'uns out of the Johnson camp. It's possible that when you focus more on state numbers (which I will be doing in this space soon) that the erosion starts to materialize. And obviously much will depend on the national reaction to Monday's Libertarian-less debate. But for now, evidence of Gary Johnson's nosedive remains stubbornly elusive on a national-poll level, while he heads into a 40-day stretch that has historically been among the best for third-party presidential candidates.

* Originally had those two figures reversed.

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  1. Two things jump out from the chart

    And then you point to something that doesn’t jump out.

    What I notice is the increased frequency of data points on the more recent lines. We over-poll these days. It might be the only thing reminding respondants that these candidates even exist.

    1. Do you know who else spent significant time going over polls?

      1. Heidi Fleiss?

        1. Start working at home with GOOGLE!YAHOO. ABCNEWS AND MORE GLOBAL SITES.. It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Monday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6475 this 4 weeks past. I began this 6-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $98 per hour. I work through this web, Read more this web…

      2. Equestrians?

      3. Child-stalking clowns?

    2. Start working at home with GOOGLE!YAHOO. ABCNEWS AND MORE GLOBAL SITES.. It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Monday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6475 this 4 weeks past. I began this 6-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $98 per hour. I work through this web, Read more this web…

    3. I wonder how much poll-fatigue skews answers.

      I know I’ve gotten to the point where I almost always just hang up on pollsters without saying anything. Especially since most of them reveal an obvious agenda pretty soon after they start asking questions.

  2. Not Stein’s evident slippage in the face of a tightening election

    I’m going to guess your average Stein voter may be cognizant of the Ralph Nader effect and are probably pivoting over to Clinton as a defense against Trump. That or a defense against the looming libertarian moment.

    1. anecdotal = i’ve actually heard a number of bernie-supporter millenial types express greater interest in Johnson than Stein. which has surprised me. Its not that they’re bullish about his libertarianism – they’re not. they just think he’s less ‘partisan’ and less interested in the TEAM bullshit and rings a few of the non-interventionist bells that Ron Paul did…

      in fact many still criticize his small-govt attitude, but they think he’s still a more-interesting protest than Stein, who seems to be representative of a POV that we need to go Full SJW/Progcore in all areas of life, which a significant share left-leaning people apparently seem to think ‘goes too far’;

      1. I sense that as well. But I believe that people who started with Stein won’t pivot to Johnson. I suspect they’ll pivot to Clinton.

      2. Saw a surprising amount of that as well in Philly among the hardcore Bernie supporters, including some outright commies.

      3. Saw a surprising amount of that as well in Philly among the hardcore Bernie supporters, including some outright commies.

    2. I wonder how many of them dont remember 2000.

      I was talking to some co-workers who have a vague concept that something was weird from that election.

      1. People who are 30 now were 14 then.

        How the hell did I get this old?

  3. SIV was gonna post some anti-Johnson fuckery, but then he noticed that the graph kind of looks like a chicken and started jacking off instead.

    1. It looks more like a dolphin to me.


    2. Look. If you let libertarians go around and vote whomever they what al willynilly, they may not vote GOP. And keeping libertarians from getting off Boss Trump’s plantation is the most important thing.

    3. Christ, what an asshole.

      1. ^This guy knows what’s going on^

        1. Chipper reads The New Yorker religiously, it is known.

  4. This is a good idea.

    The extreme-risk protection order would allow only certain people to petition a Superior Court judge to restrict a troubled person from purchasing or buying firearms. They include family, other members of the person’s household, a dating partner or law-enforcement officers.

    1. But what does that have to do with the “None of the Above” candidates getting a higher % of the vote?

      1. It’s about determining who the extreme risk is.

    2. But what about the law enforcement officer’s department issued firearm? Will they be restricted from that, too?

  5. A loyal Hillary supporter just told me on Tuesday that my vote for Johnson will be “just like a vote for Trump.” I guess I just don’t understand how the third-party votes are re-distributed among the major party candidates.

    1. They look at your party registration. If registered to a major party, a minor party vote goes to their opponent. If not registered to a major party, the vote is discarded.

      1. So…. wait am I throwing my vote away?!?

    2. The response should always be to clarify to them that, outside of ‘battleground states’, pretty much all of them are locked up for either party – and if you live in one of these states, your vote for a 3rd party is actually MORE significant than if you just voted for one or the other = because it sends a message to whomever wins or loses where in the policy-spectrum the untapped support lies.

      IOW, your third party vote ends up being a significant promotion of your political ideas, without in fact “costing” anything.

      if you live in a battleground state, well, i think the answer is simply “fuck off, Slaver”

      1. Your last response is the only correct one, I think. The level of political sophistication displayed in your average partisan tends to be…low.

    3. By her logic she must assume that absent Gay Jay, you’d be 100% on board with Hillary.

    4. Tell them that your other option is to not bother voting, not vote for Trillary.

      1. Did Deez Nutz make the national ballot? That was where my vote was going. Nothing like a protest vote for Deez Nutz.

    5. I would respond with “No, if *YOU* force me to vote 2-party, I will vote for Trump out of spite. Of you.”

      1. I have actually thought about this (voting for Trump to spite the proggies), but even I can’t imagine voting for Trump.

        1. No, I wouldnt do it, I would just SAY it.

          1. Good one! But some (perhaps most) of these proggies are mentally unstable, so I would be prepared to physically defend yourself.

          2. That’s the best thing about voting. What you say you voted for matters more than who you actually vote for.

      2. Good reply. And I wouldn’t be lying.

  6. Does a third-party fade sound more like a haircut, a pass pattern, or the title of a raunchy romantic comedy?

    1. b, or “when a menage a trois goes bad”

      1. This. Guy taps out, girls are still going strong.

        1. More like girl taps out and leaves, guys don’t notice.

          1. *shudders*

          2. It’s not gay when it’s in a three-way.

    2. third-party fade

      Or a night on the town with this guy?

    3. Football term.

  7. Not Stein’s evident slippage in the face of a tightening election (and subsequent heightened scrutiny of her views), but Johnson’s lack thereof

    1) Matt, are you suggesting that GayJay has lack of slippage or lack or scrutiny?

    2) This is an excellent editorial euphemism example.

    3) I blame Stein’s “evident slippage in the face of a tightening erection” on The Count of Monte Crusto.

  8. So a little over 8% can’t hold their nose for the viable candidates but want to make a point? Or is it people tagging in and out to maintain a deceptively consistent percentage?

    1. I think it is undecideds personally who will come around to vote for one in the end.

      We’re facing a presidential election with the most disliked and second most disliked major party nominees since polling began keeping track of these things. People are going to be principled/faux-disgusted this far away from the election but, in the end, most will come back to the fold.

  9. This was also a good idea.

    In January, each registered voter will be mailed four, $25 vouchers, totaling $100 to contribute toward campaigns of their choice. Seattle is the first city in the country to implement so-called “democracy vouchers.”

    The 2017 races eligible to accept such vouchers will be the two at-large council positions and the city attorney.

    The money for these vouchers is raised through increased property taxes that have already been levied beginning this year.

    1. I’ll say one positive thing about this method. It show property owners that the political class is fucking them over.

      I wonder if a black market for these vouchers will develop. That could get interesting.

      1. I wonder if a black market for these vouchers will develop.

        Of course it will. I dont even think that is Iron Law worthy, as it was probably a key feature.

      2. I know I’d sell mine to anyone offering cash.

  10. Using Ross Perot’s 1992 run in this graph is beyond silly. He dropped out for a batshit crazy reason. Of course he was going to suffer a “fade” by the time people actually voted; it’s shocking he broke 1%, to be honest.

    Also, we’re still almost 7 weeks from the election. A fade can happen over months or it can happen on Election Day itself. Romney was very tight to Obama in the days heading up to the election (national polls showed pretty much a coin flip) but suffered a fade when people actually voted.

    1. Are suggesting a turgid Johnson can suddenly become flaccid?

      1. Um… yes…?

        /slowing walks away from Groovus Maximus

      2. When the weather gets cold, Johnson may experience shrinkage.

        1. I think a fade haircut would be interesting on Johnson.

          1. Keep your manscaping ideas to yourself, Paul.

    2. but suffered a fade when people actually voted.

      That wasn’t a “fade” that was ‘revealed preferences’. Unless that was your point. Carry on.

      1. I mean, it’s tough to actually distinguish between the two. Political preferences are a fuzzy thing.

        1. Tribbles?

    3. Perot was fun in the debates — responding to criticism that he didn’t have government experience: “Well, they’ve got a point. I don’t have any experience running up a $4 trillion debt.”

      Ah, $4 trillion. Those were the salad days.

      1. Perot was awesome in the debates, and Obama even stole his “I’m all ears” joke when a reporter asked him a question.

        1. the charts in his infomercial were the best, especially the one with the chicken and the tiny sliver of pie that represented the GDP of Arkansas vs the rest of the U.S.

        2. I liked Stockdale turning off his hearing aid during the debate.

          1. Stockdale gave some talks on Stoicism that are better than anything any politician could dream of giving. Worth googling.

            1. Yes, well, he might be the only 20th century honest-to-God stoic.

  11. I don’t think Hillary’s millennial-shaming trick is going to work on GJ and could, in fact, have the opposite effect. The more old farts tell kids not to do something, the more likely they will do it.

    1. The media and the Democrats can’t seem to grasp that the young people who voted for Obama in 2008 are not the same young people voting in this election. If you were 19 or 20 in 2008, you are 27 or 28 now. Meanwhile, today’s 20 year olds were 12 in 2008. The young people voting today are the tail end of the millennial generation and not the same as the ones in 2008. So appeals to hopey changy nostalgia are not going to work.

      1. And the 20 year olds who voted for Nader in 2000 are 36.
        And today’s 20 year olds were 4 in 2000 and dont remember how the election turned out.

        1. “And today’s 20 year olds were 4 in 2000 and dont remember how the election turned out.”

          They remember Crazy Aunt Sally screaming about how she’d like to kill someone named Nader, until they gave her her medication and sent her to bed.

          1. All I ever heard growing up from my mom was how evil Nixon was, then it was how evil Reagan was. I went along with it for a while, then one day found myself voting for someone with an R after their name.

        2. ^This^ – In other words, they were born during Clinton’s 2nd term. Hillary is about as relevant to them as Nixon or Ford was to me. Of course, she was a senator for a while and served as secretary of state, but will any of these kids give a shit?

      2. The media and the Democrats can’t seem to grasp that the young people nowadays don’t watch TV and have no fucking idea who these people are. TV news is in mad decline, as are most traditional news platforms. The previous voting generation had more trust in John Stewart’s reporting ability, and he was on fucking Comedy Central!

        That’s why I don’t trust polls. Kids don’t answer phones if they don’t know the caller ID, so the results are skewed. The polling methodologies they are using are from the 1970s-1980s, and young people today do not interact in “traditional” ways. So they polls are most definitely skewed and horribly wrong.

        1. That is all true. Young people today do have one thing in common with young people in the past, they as a general rule don’t show up to vote. Voting is something old people who don’t have anything better to do generally do. So if Hillary or any candidate really, thinks they are going to win by getting the Yute vote, they are pissing in the wind.

          1. 49% voted in 2008, 51% voted in 2012 (or vice versa).

            1. Yeah, but there was a “hip, black man” running in both of those elections.

              1. Do not underestimate Hillary’s hips.

  12. Reasons not(?) to vote for Johnson, according to articles on the web:
    One hit piece says he will tank the economy if he ends deficit spending
    Another hit piece says he is disqualified from being president because he believes that capitalists will develop technologies to fight pollution

    Are these hit pieces working? To me, both those ideas sound like wonderful reasons to vote for him. Am I that far out of touch with mainstream opinion?

    1. No and Yes.

      Every commercial a D runs makes me want to vote for the R. Then I remember the D is lying and the R isnt nearly as awesome as the commercial makes them out to be.

    2. Ending deficit spending means we pay less taxes (possibly). Sounds good so far.

      And I believe iPhones will end all pollution.


    In other news, Jesus Christ is Jon Oliver stupid. Notice also they are real tough guys when dealing with some ice cream store owner in Minnesota. The same people who have spent the last 8 years sucking the cock of the man who holds the most powerful office on earth, are suddenly real courageous tough guys when it comes to some nobody.

    The only good thing you can say for the Daily Show is that it has made Progressives collectively even more stupid, smug and insular than they already were and by doing that has made the movement less effective.

    1. Jesus Christ is Jon Oliver stupid

      Thats not a nice thing to say about Jesus.

      1. I did not mean to compare Jesus or any being higher on the evolutionary scale than malignant pond algae to Jon Oliver.

        1. Don’t insult malignant pond algae!

    2. The story is about The Daily Show hosted by Trevor Noah, not John Oliver.

      1. No, see, j-o-n o-l-i-v-e-r is just a really out-there misspelling of “Trevor Noah.”

      2. Good catch. I never watch those shows and at some point all of the various smug Prog douchebags kind of merge into one. Is it Trevor Bee or Samantha Oliver or Bill Stewart? Fuck I don’t know anymore.

        1. Also, Crusty, get off of John’s lawn.

          1. Old or young, how do you keep track of these people? They all have the same shtick. There is not a hair’s worth of difference between any of them. Unless you have a home scorecard, how do you tell them apart?

            1. Uh, John. Noah is the black one.

              1. Okay. But just because one is black doesn’t make it any easier to remember that the black guy is Noah versus the rest of them. The all make my eyes glaze over.

                1. The story you linked has a photo of Trevor Noah and uses his name numerous times.

                  1. Yes and between the time I read that and the time that I typed, in my mind it went from Noah to Oliver. Why? Because for some reason I forget that Oliver doesn’t host the Daily show. So I remembered the Daily show and associated it with Oliver.

                    That is easy to do when you really don’t pay much attention to any of them. It is not like Noah is that much different than Oliver. Sure, Noah is black but that is about the only difference.

              2. All progs look alike!

  14. If more teams had worked on the Third Party Fade instead of stupid Hack a Shaq, the Lakers wouldn’t have been so dominant during the Kobe/Shaq era.

    1. If Shaq had shot free throws over the summer, no one would have used hack a shaq.

  15. I’m guessing there will be Gary Johnson ads during the debate. Time to donate.

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