Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson's Polling Finally Starts to Go Down

On the eve of the first presidential debate, the leading third-party candidate sees a mini-flurry of negative numbers


As someone who has written at least four times in this space (1, 2, 3, 4) about how the national poll numbers for Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson have stubbornly (and ahistorically) refused to go down, I'm here to tell you that it looks like they finally might be inching that direction. The past two days have brought forth four surveys showing poll-over-poll declines, some of them quite large:

09/22-25 Quinnipiac: HC 44% DT 43% GJ 8% JS 2%

09/08-13 Quinnipiac: HC 41% DT 39% GJ 13% JS 4%

09/22-24 Economist/YouGov: HC 44% DT 41% GJ 5% JS 2%

09/18-19 Economist/YouGov: HC 40% DT 38% GJ 7% JS 2%

09/21-24 Bloomberg: DT 41% HC 43% GJ 8% JS 4%

08/05-08 Bloomberg: HC 44% DT 40% GJ 9% JS 4%

09/19-22 ABC News/Washington Post: HC 46% DT 44% GJ 5% JS 1%

09/05-08 ABC News/Washington Post: HC 46% DT 41% GJ 9% JS 2%

That's a four-poll average of 6.5 percent for the latest surveys, down from 9.5 percent in the most recent of those same four polls (Green Party nominee Jill Stein is also down, from 3.0 percent to 2.3). The Quinnipiac five-point drop was the biggest percentage-point change in any consecutive polls Johnson has seen this campaign, beating a record tied…uh, the day before by ABC News/Washington Post (which, incidentally, is one of the Big Five agencies selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates to determine eligibility; the Libertarian's average on those now stands at 7.4 percent, just under half of the required support).

What happens when you broaden the picture out a bit? I averaged out the latest September polls across 16 surveys, and compared the numbers for Johnson and Stein in the prior iterations of those same polls:

NEW: GJ 7.9% JS 2.8%

OLD: GJ 8.7% JS 3.3%

What's happening is plain as day: In all but one of those 16 polls, the newer version featured a smaller gap between two-way race and the four-way race. Or better stated in English, voters are leaving the third-party candidates in order to impact the two-party proceedings. Which certainly makes intuitive sense, given that the Clinton-Trump contest is pretty close to being tied. (Though as I mentioned last Thursday, several third-party presidential candidates have seen something like a dead cat bounce in October, before a last-second decline.) At any rate, FiveThirtyEight has ratcheted down its expectations for Johnson from 7.1 percent a month ago, to 6.5 percent today.

Is this beginning of a slide inexorable? I don't think so, for two reasons: 1) This election is just weird. Even Johnson's lack of decline up until now has been weird. Who knows what the hell will happen? Less flippantly, 2) tonight's debate, which will likely break viewership records, could change the trajectory of the campaign in all sorts of different ways, each with multiple potential ramifications. To cite one that could prove favorable to the Libertarian ticket, both Trump and Clinton could conceivably come off as unbearably awful, leading fence-sitters to jump desperately into any available new briar patch.

Make sure to tune into Facebook Live tonight for my interview with Gary Johnson and Bill Weld at 6 p.m. ET.

NEXT: Education Officials: Mispronouncing Students' Names Is a Microaggression

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  1. Johnson starting to go down...

    You know who else started going down?

    1. Jailbait Traci Lords?

    2. Hillary, on 9/11?

    3. Is Johnson having his Untergang?

  2. GayJasy trending terrorable troble

    1. Multiple times, even!
      (in reply to Diane)

  3. RCP avg right now has him at 7.2.

    Did the millennials finally learn their place at the cankles?

    1. Hitlery is collapsing. TRUMP'S PANZER out flanked her Magnot line. Progs are ready to lynch Nate Silver as we speak.

      1. So you're admitting Trump has Panzer divisions? You know who else had Panzer divisions? Of course you do. We all do.

          1. + centuries of rape, murder, and theft

        1. Well, if General Trumpster is going to stage a blitzkrieg, the obvious starting front is going to be to the north. Blame Canada! Seig Heil der Fuhrer!

  4. No need to consult your physician now.

  5. Being excluded from the debates does a nice job of undermining support. All is proceeding as I have foreseen.

    1. Not surprising since Gary has been saying for months now that it's game over if he doesn't get into the debates.
      Soft supporters get to pick up their marbles and go join the games at Team D or Team R now.

  6. Voting for a major party candidate these days feels more and more like Stockholm syndrome.....

  7. Johnson goes limp as election tightens.

    1. Johnson goes flaccid and undebated.

  8. Trump's position is the easiest to maintain and the easiest to screw up.

    If he can resist the urge to be obnoxious for one night, he can be President.

    Bur can he resist the urge to be obnoxious for an entire night?

    They'll all be baiting him. The moderators and Hillary herself. She's a master baiter.

    1. I see what you did there.

      As good a Twitter trash-talker as he may be, putting him head-to-head with a seasoned manipulator like Lady Nixon is like Homer Simpson vs. Sir Humphrey Appleby.

    2. "They'll all be baiting him. The moderators and Hillary herself. She's a master baiter."

      How'd he make it through the GOP debates? Some of the mods were instructed to take him down there as well.

      1. RethugliKKKan KKKlown KKKar! /derp

        At least that's the KKKoolaid, the lefties are drinking to get comfortably numb with.

        1. This debate will really just be Trump vs the moderator, Hillary's best to try and stay out of the fray, with maybe the occasional lie about Trump that no one will bother to check.

          1. She'll be focusing on staying upright and not coughing.

            1. Smart. I'm sure her custom podium has handles.

              1. Maybe Trump's comes with Steve Guttenberg and a hooker.

      2. "How'd he make it through the GOP debates?"

        Consider the audience.

        Being obnoxious as hell may be a winning strategy when registered Republicans who vote in the primaries are being split six ways.

        Now he's gunning for undecided soccer moms in Ohio--who are not registered Republicans--and his only competition is a woman.

        Obnoxious is not the answer.

    3. Don't underestimate Trump. He seems to handle himself pretty well in debates. The media were trying to bait him and piss him off through all of the GOP debates. Sure it will be worse this time. Trump's greatest gift here is that it's Hillary on the stage with him.

      1. I'd feel pretty confident too if everyone were tryin to bate me.

        1. I see what you did there...

      2. He went ballistic obnoxious during the primary debates.

    4. Didn't I hear this morning that Hillary is openly negotiating with the moderators to tailor their questions to Trump?

      In the recent NBC commander-in-chief forum, Clinton's top aides said moderator Matt Lauer grilled Clinton a lot more intensely than Trump. And they say that for tonight's debate the moderator and the TV networks ? with the crawl at the bottom of the screen ? have a responsibility to fact-check Trump in real time.

      1. Color me shocked.

        1. Hillary is simultaneously the most badass woman ever and a fragile snowflake who can't handle tough (by MSM standards) questions because they aren't fair.

          1. You don't have to convince me, the question will be like:

            Hillary, what's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

            Mr. Trump, everyone knows you're a racist, bigot, homophobe, Islamaphobe, and probably the devil...

  9. I can't imagine anybody's tuning into the debate to make up their mind which candidate to vote for. Anybody who says they're seriously still trying to decide which candidate has the better platform should be barred from voting on the grounds they're mentally defective. Some of the undecideds are trying to decide which candidate is worse so they can vote for the other, more of them are trying to figure out which candidate is more likely to win and that's the one they'll vote for. But most everybody tuning in is hoping to see either Hillary have a physical breakdown or Trump a mental. The debate is not going to change anybody's mind unless one of the candidates does something really outrageous.

    1. Agreed. There are no undecided voters. The debates are like a football rivalry game.
      Everyone's amped up to root for their team, but even if they lose they aren't about to become fans of the other team

  10. anyone else getting these Ezra Klein "the electorate is too fucking stupid to realize Hillary's THE GREATEST and Trump will literally kill America" videos in their FB feed? they're a laugh riot. the latest is that everyone expects Hillary to be perfect at the debate because she's an expert at everything but all Trump has to do to win is not fall from the podium with a heart attack because America is stupid. that guy wins the sycophant award.

    1. I did see a great one with Elizabeth Warren, that said all of Trump's faults can be reduced to... failing to release his taxes. Because we don't know how much Trump actually makes.

      You'd think, when trying to boost Hillary Clinton, these folks would realize that you probably shouldn't be making the debate about personal qualities. Saying, oh no, Trump's scandals are far worse than Clinton's just reminds people that Clinton has a lot of scandals. Focus instead on her shitty, feel-good policies.

    2. videos in their FB feed?

      You lost me here.

      1. Lost me at Ezra Klein.

    3. Quit FB. They give away the game when the entirety of their advocacy consists of a long list of insults and name calling directed at the folks voting for the other guy/gal.

  11. I think the mistake the left are making is that they are focusing on trying to make Hillary into some sort of policy wonk, and maybe they can do that. Their mistake is that they should have spent that effort on making her likable. Or at least make an attempt to somehow embed a personality into her black soul.

    I think that all Trump needs to do is don't let the media bait him, stay cool, and come off as somewhat pleasant and likable. Most people will not even remember the substance of what was said. They will only remember whether someone seemed likable or not. If Hillary and the media cannot paint Trump as the hateful, racist, devil they have been claiming he is all of this time, Hillary's goose is cooked. Do not underestimate this guy, we saw what he did, despite no one thinking it possible, to 17 GOP candidates. Anyone really believe that Hillary is better on a debate stage than all 17 of those candidates?

    1. Yeah well 15 of those candidates were pulled from the GOP kiddie table so that the nomination of JEB! wouldn't seem pre-ordained, so it was no big deal really.

      As far as remaining cool and unbaited goes, that may actually work against him. After all, making a blithering jackass of himself has gotten this far and I'm sure a huge segment of his supporters would be let down if he didn't do so here.

      1. After all, making a blithering jackass of himself has gotten this far and I'm sure a huge segment of his supporters would be let down if he didn't do so here.

        To use their terminology, could The Donald actually cuck himself?

        1. If there was a way to do it, Trump's the guy to find it.

    2. Their mistake is that they should have spent that effort on making her likable.

      Sometimes I wonder if the whole Monica Lewinsky thing was a crafted political move to make her sympathetic to the public. Since that didn't work, I can't imagine how they'd surmount the hurdle of actually making her seem likable. Given her high-profile fuckups and scandals in general, their last best hope is to make her seem competent, at least more than the other guy. Also consider that she's almost certainly holding the reins very closely on her campaign. She's every bit as power-hungry, narcissistic, and egotistical as she's ever been. There's no way anyone would have the guts to approach someone like that and even hint that she had an unlikable personality that was going to weigh her down and possibly sink her ambitions for good.

      I won't vote for either of the scumbags, but I must agree with you that she should not be listening to the media proclaiming her shoo-in to coronation with her opponent still on the field sword-in-hand and bloodied from the fallen in his own political party. I do not understand the Trump demographic at all, but I really think it would be a bad idea to underestimate them either at this point.

    3. They tried, really they did. All that crazy cackling, the odd, over-the-top hand gestures, and affected mannerisms - those were all part of the plan to make her likable. Instead she comes off as not only unlikable but also as a complete poseur and phony.

    1. There should be laws against this political doping. Congress needs to do something!

    2. I wonder if Johnson's polls could get fluffed by Clinton if she performs poorly in tonight's debate?

      1. I'm fully expecting Hillary to wipe the floor with Trump. It's going to be brutal. I'm expecting her to be POTUS, like the PredictWise markets seem to believe.

      2. She's already used to the concept of generous endowments. Johnson may rise again stronger and harder than before.

  12. If CNN are too obvious in being biased against Trump, I believe it will have exactly the reverse effect they are expecting. I'm not sure if they realize just how unpopular the media already are. But to be honest, I think they will be over the top biased. I don't think they can help it. The polls are too close and Hillary has been in free fall for weeks. They are full on shitting themselves.

    1. Secretary Clinton, how much do you love your grandchildren? Trump, how many orphans did your business kill this morning?

      1. Secretary Clinton, how much do you love your grandchildren?

        I love them so much! So why aren't I 50-points ahead?

      2. Secretary Clinton, how much do you love your grandchildren?

        I love them so much! So why aren't I 50-points ahead?

      3. If SNL had any balls and were still on the air (they've been cancelled, right?) this would be be basis for their opening sketch next Saturday. It would be the moderators lobbing the most softball of softball questions at Hillary, her barely being able to cough up (literally) a coherent response, and then asking Trump "When did you stop beating your wife" type questions, with Trump saying stupid shit in response.

    2. I agree with this. Trump's supporters are almost by definition deeply skeptical of the "Elite" media. If CNN went after Trump during a debate it would confirm everything they already believe. It would backfire like you wouldn't believe.

    3. Totally. Ironically, the best way to undermine Trump is to let him be himself, unprovoked.

  13. Trump wins. Obama refuses to step down on the ground that Trump is too dangerous, the media go along.

    1. Oh he'll step down, unless he wants the US military doing a coup to install the winner of the election.

      But he will be barking from the sidelines for the next 4 years, possibly 8 years.

      GWB sucked, but he's at least stayed out of the spotlight since he left. Obama is a narcissist attention-seeker, and I'll bet you $5 he will make appearances on talk shows and whatnot.

      1. "I'll bet you $5 he will make appearances on talk shows and whatnot."

        Yep. And plenty of international appearances, too. I bet he sets out on an even bigger and "better" US Apology Tour as he angles for Secretary General of the UN.

      2. Obama will be blathering in front of podiums for the rest of his life (and probably getting $300,000 per speech). He loves the spotlight too much. Hell, they're going to start naming things after him before he's even dead. I'm sure there will be a "Barack Obama Boulevard" in every urban proggie shithole, and it will be the most dangerous street in town.

    2. This is the worst prediction you've made!

    3. Which has been the plan all along. Trump wasn't running as part of some elaborate conspiracy to ensure Herself gets elected president, he was running in an elaborate conspiracy to actually win, but be so "awful" that Obama can seize absolute power in order to "protect the country" from Trump's idiotic rule. /adjusts tin-foil hat

      1. Valerie Jarrett would be played by Tyler Perry in the New Order.

  14. "It was 'fun' to flirt with the idea of 'wasting' a vote for a third party candidate, but now that there's only a few weeks left until election day, it's time to get serious and choose between Giant Douche and Turn Sandwich." /average voter dumbass

  15. It was fun this time soaring two feet over the runway before settling back down and returning to the hangar.

  16. So what.

    The LP was never going to win the popular vote. If there is any chance of getting in the WH it will be by denying ClinTrump 270. To do that we take just one state or in the case of Maine, one congressional district.

    This is a lot more doable than getting 15% average of 5 polls that don't mention Gary for the first few questions.

    Anyway, we certainly will get enough votes in 2016 to make sure that the LP is on every ballot as a permanent party. That is a big deal.

    We will have exposed more Americans to the LP message than ever before.

    We will have influenced future voters ( ex. millennials, enlisted personnel, independents+) who in the future will check us out and vote for us.

    We currently have about 140+ LP elected officials. we are running over 600 and will increase our representation.

    This is the year that the duopoly is finally ended.

    Whether ClinTrump is our next president is immaterial. The system is about to die and at least these two bozos
    will hasten that.

    Especially, Trump.

    Vote LP straight ballot.

    1. I would like to vote LP straight ballot, but it's not possible in California, since we have top-two primaries, and November is really just a runoff vote.

  17. Johnson's finished. Trump flamed out. That only leaves...drugs and alcohol.

  18. Xavier . I can see what your saying... William `s posting is incredible... last monday I bought themselves a volvo after I been earnin $5905 this-past/5 weeks and-just over, 10k this past munth . without a doubt its the coolest job I've ever done . I actually started four months/ago and pretty much immediately brought home at least $69 p/h . look at this now


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