Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson Will Get 4.9% of the Vote, Predicts FiveThirtyEight

Libertarian Party may fall tantalizingly short of its number-one goal.


Eleven days out from what had long looked to be a breakthrough moment for the Libertarian Party, the Gary Johnson campaign this morning received a dagger in the ribs from FiveThirtyEight number-cruncher Harry Enten:

It's not just about projections, either: The site's running snapshot of the election as it stands has the Libertarian nominee right at 5.0 percent, down a full percentage point from as recently as Monday. Johnson was last at 7 percent on Oct. 8, 8 percent on Sept. 22 (back when I wrote a post titled "Gary Johnson Continues to Avoid the Third-Party Fade"), and 9 percent on Aug. 25. His high point in FiveThirtyEight's reckoning was 9.9 percent on July 17.

I'm taking the under, alas. ||| Reason

The same trajectory can be found in RealClearPolitics' polling averages (which, unlike those from Nate Silver's outfit, do not take into account state polls or differing quality in the data, though they do measure Green Party nominee Jill Stein). There, Johnson sits currently at 5.2 percent, down from 6.0 percent on Tuesday, 7.1 percent on Oct. 6, 8.1 percent on Sept. 25, and a high of 9.2 percent on Sept. 14 (a day after I wrote a post titled "New Poll: Gary Johnson Support 'Essentially Unmoved Even After' Aleppo").

In an interview with me on Tuesday, Johnson posited that "the factor involved in the drop in polls" was "the poll shift from registered voters a couple of months out to likely voters," the latter of which "underweigh young people and independents." But even among registered voters, his numbers have been in free-fall: The latest CNN/ORC poll, which came out Monday, saw a registered-voter drop in just 18 days from 9 percent to 5 percent (likely voters decreased from 7 percent to 3).

Are there any other reasons to hope that Johnson can punch above his polling weight? I can think of just one: His terrific showing among active-duty military, who I presume are disproportionately underweighted in most public-opinion surveys, due to many being overseas. And though the momentum is hurtling in the wrong direction, it is theoretically possible that Hillary Clinton will reassert a larger lead over Donald Trump and more voters will belatedly realize that the race is not close in the state they actually live in.

For the Libertarian Party, the difference between 4.9 percent and 5.0 percent is huge: The higher number would mean achieving official "minor party" status from the Federal Elections Commission, making it eligible for a taxpayer gift of around $10 million, in addition to having a much smoother time with the onerous ballot-access requirements that otherwise soak up a large percentage of the party's time and energy. When I asked the candidate this week whether he thought he'd cross that threshold, he said "I don't know, we'll see." The answer to that question will go a long way toward assessing the heavily disputed question of whether his campaign has been a historic success, a bungled opportunity, something in between, or even all of the above.

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  1. At the rate he’s going, he’ll be lucky to match his .99% of the vote he got in 2012. He certainly lost me in this election with his consistent lack of preparedness.

    1. Trump’s managed to take worse preparedness to almost half the vote, though. It’s certainly not a deal breaker for most.

      1. It’s not a deal breaker if you have hordes of sheeple that will religiously pull the lever for you because you have an R or a D next to your name. It is if you’re on the outside of the duopoly and trying to make a case for your worldview and policies.

    2. The major party candidates “preparedness” is completely staged by pre-recorded interviews with questions that have been sent to them in advance, and Trump even fails that low bar.

      1. Yeah, and you know what? I’ve heard Gary speak a few times. I’m not the hugest fan or anything, but he carries himself better than both Clinton and Trump.

        I think him being a big doofus is such media exaggeration. It’s not a high bar here.

      2. The major party candidates are also surrounded by debate coaches, speechwriters, policy “experts”, and the like because they have the money to do that since they’re not trying to get on the ballot each year.

    3. Johnson had one job in this election – to get 5% of the popular vote to maintain automatic ballot access for the LP. But to do that he needed to run a real, serious campaign; I don’t think he did that.

      Between voters’ fear of Trump, the McMullin candidacy and Johnson’s underwhelming performance combined into the perfect storm. McMullin’s candidacy is primarily to spoil it for Trump, but a foreseeable secondary effect is to spoil the chance of Johnson breaking five percent. Remember that the next time the SoCons pretend to make all nicey-nice with libertarians.

      After the election, expect to see more jiggery-pokery and shenanigans about ballot access. The duopoly’s narrative will be “look what almost happened – too risky to allow those third parties onto the ballot.”

    4. Everyone needs to cut it with the blame Gary BS.
      Blame Congressional Republicans who can’t nut up enough to endorse Gary over turd sandwich in a year where they would probably be forgiven for doing so.
      Blame the total lack of financial support. Libertarians have the highest educational attainment levels and incomes. Add that with the number of billionaires who are Libertarian or Libertarian leaning and a $12 million take by this point is pathetic against Hillary’s $700 million. Really how the hell does a guy who wants to abolish corporate tax fail to get any major funding in a post Citizen’s United world?!
      Blame a media which is nakedly hostile to him. Bill Weld is all I have to say. They basically have gotten to the point where they report left wing wet dreams about what he says and does instead of what happened. Even Snoop Dogg’s website Merry Jane can’t even say anything nice about Gary.
      Blame the 90% of American voters who will vote for someone they hate because ‘This is a two party system’.
      Are Gary’s gaffes worse than Obama saying there are 57 states or a language called Austrian? Or Trump’s inability to tell the Quds and Kurds apart?

      1. Or know what the nuclear triad is?
        Or Hillary’s mistake on Mosul’s location? Or her other mistake that her Libyan intervention avoid a civil war there?!??!
        *head explodes*

  2. just that he managed to go from 2012 to 2016 without the slightest sign he has any curiosity in the issues or learning anything new was really troubling.. I have some lefty friends and would constant badger them with there candidate being a bloodthirsty psychopath and no amount of free stuff should be worth that large of pile of bodies they should consider LP.. after making an absolute ass of himself and by extension me and my proselytizing, just done with him.. jesus Christ he is such a dumb fuck

    1. jesus Christ he is such a dumb fuck

      This kills me.

      He’s a dumb fuck when compared to Clinton/Trump? Really? He’s a dumb fuck because he’s a normal dude who’s not quick on his feet and isn’t the best speaker?

      Clinton said the other day that she wasn’t going to add one penny to the debt and was going to help small business by raising the minimum wage. Trump is going to intentionally start a trade war to improve our economy and is going to build a wall along the entire length of southern border on the Mexican peso.

      And Gary Johnson is a dumb fuck?

      I can’t even.

      1. Coming from a guy who doesn’t even know that Aleppo is capital of Syria!

        1. Correction: The capital of Syria is Raqqa.

          1. Correction: The capital of Syria is Damascus.

            1. What is Syria?

            2. Took you enough tries.

              Raqqa is a capital though – of ISIS.

              1. From the Shazam and ISIS Power Hour?

              2. I assume he’s making a joke about the NYT (?) article that mocked GJ’s Aleppo comment then had to print several corrections because they kept getting the geography wrong themselves.

                1. I was not aware of this happening. Probably because I do not read the NYT.

                  1. Neither do I, but somebody posted about it here back when it happened.

      2. I’m not a Johnson fan, but he’s by far the best candidate we have right now. Not libertarians–Americans. What amazes me is that people, faced with an obvious crook, with proven incompetence, and with a clown, aren’t voting for anything else. Or not voting at all.

        1. I hate to agree with a Person of Floridian Residence, but what Pro Lib said.

        2. It shouldn’t amaze you…

          As I said many election cycles before, there’s no meaningful difference between voting for the lesser of three evils and voting for the lesser of two evils.

          I look at Gary Johnson, and I see a guy who shouldn’t be president; he supports adding a national sales tax to the tax toolbox of the Federal Government (the notion that the income tax would be abolished as part of the fair tax implementation flies in the face of centuries of examples of how new taxes come into being); his rationale for whether people should be permitted freedom on some issue is based on “what is good for society.” He behaves inapporpiately while communicating with people, which is a major leadership issue.

          So why should I vote for him?

          To reward a political party for the colossal error of judgement of nominating a candidate who is unsuited for the office and has terrible policy ideas?

          It can’t be to keep Hillary or Trump out of office; the rational thing to do to advance those purposes is to vote for Trump or Hillary respectively.

          That’s why come this election if I bother to show up to the polls, it will be to write in None of the Above a bunch of times, and if I am in a statist mood, perhaps to write in “Freddy and the Biped“. Because *that’s* how you do a protest vote.

          1. I’m fine with that–GJ isn’t exactly an ideal candidate.

            My wife was going to write me in, initially.

          2. there’s no meaningful difference between voting for the lesser of three evils and voting for the lesser of two evils.

            The problem with your position, t, is that GJ isn’t evil.

            He has one really bad position (public accommodation) and is, in general very libertarian. IMHO, you are digging pretty hard to find reasons not to vote for him. Read through this list and tell me how many positions you disagree with.

            Perfect? Certainly not. But how good is good enough? Have you EVER met another human being who you agreed with on everything?

            Maybe you should run. That way you and your candidate will be in perfect agreement.

            1. Francisco, I am not looking for perfect agreement.

              Support for the fair tax alone is a deal killer for me. Full stop.

              When someone asks a candidate a question regarding freedom of association, and he says “letting people choose who they do business with is not good for society”. It’s a deal killer. Full stop.

              When someone asks a candidate about his views on military interventions and he says as part of his answer he supports sending the U.S. miliatary after Joseph Kony. It’s a deal killer full stop.

              Shall I continue?

      3. ^ This

      4. Trump is going to intentionally start a trade war to improve our economy and is going to build a wall along the entire length of southern border on the Mexican peso.

        Don’t forget Clinton ‘is going to intentionally start a trade war to improve our economy and is going to build a[n economic] wall” around the entire US to keep US employers from starting factories overseas and hiring brown people to work in them.

    2. Let us know when you’re elected governor twice and the CEO of a company. Thanks.

  3. My wife and voted for him yesterday in Florida. So there’s 2.

    1. Your wife only gets two votes?

        1. Yay! Minimum 3 votes FL so far.

          1. 4 counting me.

          2. One thing I liked is that the LP for my county actually published endorsements of candidates and ballot initiatives. A few actual LP candidates, a majority of GOP candidates, and a NOTA. They should do that every election.

        2. You poor sods, only one vote apiece.

          1. I realized at one point that I could have more, but then I also realized that even with 3 votes none of them matter.

  4. It’s just amazing how much faith people put in this stuff. These are predictions based on polling models, many of which are utilizing a 2012 model of turnout. The available data might give these results but there is reason to believe that the available data might be way off this cycle if the turnout models don’t hold. Libertarians, don’t hang yourselves in the shower just yet and that goes for Trump supporters too.

    1. If anything, I think it’s estimating Trump too low. I think these polls do a bad job of picking up the deplorables.

    2. ” but there is reason to believe that the available data might be way off this cycle”

      Is there? Or is that your wishful thinking?

      I will say this, though. All of a sudden — overnight — Trump just gained in the polls again. Pretty significantly in some.

      I voted for Johnson after all, but I won’t mind grabbing my popcorn.

      1. I’m not thrilled about Trump but I find him slightly less awful than Clinton so, yes, there is some wishful thinking on my part here. That being said, Trump did outperform his polling during the primaries and I just don’t see minorities showing up for Clinton like they did for Obama. There’s also a chance the American version of Shy Tory Syndrome is coming into play here.

    3. Meh.

      I doubted the polls in 2012. They were all spot-on.

      I’d like to be wrong, but when you get to the point where you start claiming the polls are wrong, you’re prolly fucked.

      1. And you’re prolly right. Obviously we’ll see and we’re fucked either way.

      2. The polls were actually off a little – but they somewhat underestimated Obama, when a lot of people here, and most of the right-wing blogosphere, was absolutely convinced that they were underestimating Romney.

      3. Wasn’t Gary polling above 1% in 2012? I guess the margin of error makes any single digit polling kind of a crapshoot.

        1. Johnson wasn’t included in very many polls and they were pretty much all months before the election. 538’s model predicted Obama and Romney combining for 99.1% of the vote (Johnson specifically wasn’t included), their actual total was 98.3%.

      4. when you get to the point where you start claiming the polls are wrong, you’re prolly fucked.

        This. It’s the last gasp of desperate people trying in vain to maintain some small sliver of optimism in the face of overwhelming evidence that it’s all over but the crying.

    4. Not all polls have the same LV model, and even some that have been friendlier to Trump this cycle have Clinton ahead by a decent margin. Also, if you just look at RV numbers, there would have to be a huge gap between RV and LV this cycle for Trump to overtake her, the size of which we simply haven’t seen in recent history, if ever. Either that, or for some reason the RV voter pools are totally off. It’s not impossible, but I wouldn’t be too confident in those odds if I was a Trump supporter.

    5. And the downward “trend” is almost entirely due to one bad CNN poll outlier.

  5. ugh, I really wanted to stay home and not bother with this election…

  6. I picked my hill. Sure it’s not a great hill, hell it’s not even a pretty hill, I’ve seen better hill’s before though I won’t be seeing them again, cause this is the hill I’ve chosen — and death rides a pale, swift horse.

  7. Gay Jay won’t break 1%. If I am wrong I will torture myself by eating at McDonalds.

    1. Say hello to Ronald for me…

    2. Luckily for you they serve breakfast all day now.

  8. So there must be a margin of error — since his % is right on the cusp, I guess the odds are roughly 50-50 of hitting 5%.

    If you believe the polls.

    1. Look at it this way: in the quest for 5%, your vote for Gary cancels out 19 votes for the others

      1. Johnson status: Felt

      2. I like this. Just waiting for some asshole to tell me the math is wrong, though.

  9. Semi-OT: Clinton’s ties with the PAC funding the campaign of the spouse of the senior FBI agent “investigating” her email scandal run strong and deep. Not only did Hillary headline the event, which came on the heels of her campaign announcement and was billed as her first major fundraising event, but many in the PAC are long-time Clinton operatives.

    That this shit throws no shade gives me nothing by sympathy for “grabbing the musket” after November 8th.

    1. No, the election isn’t fixed.

      It’s just that Clinton’s cronies paid the wife of the lead investigator into Hillary’s wrongdoing $675,000 in an election year.

      And then the FBI subsequently gave Hillary’s cronies immunity without reason and their laptops were all destroyed by the FBI.

      But the election isn’t fixed. Well, it is, but you’re not supposed to say that.

      You’re supposed to say it’s all about pussy grabbing. What are you, a racist?

      1. Nonono. It’s clearly fixed. By Russia. QED.

      2. We have an idiot electorate filled with people for whom bawdy talk is fully arresting while political corruption in all its complicated details earns a glazed look.

  10. I still say there’s something to gleaned from the fact that the Libertarian candidate is trouncing the Green Party candidate.

    If that’s a true measure of the relative appeal of our respective ideologies, then libertarians are five times more popular than the Greens, and if Green support is being drawn off out of support for Hillary–then that’s damning in its own way.

    How much appeal can an ideology have if its support is so easily drawn off by a candidate as despicable as Hillary?

  11. After seeing what public campaign funding did to the Reform Party, falling short of 5.0% doesn’t seem so bad.

  12. Funny how the goals have slid:

    34% (win a three-way race?)
    15% (make the debates)
    5% (qualify for federal funding)
    1% beat last time

    What’s next?
    0.5% ? (beat Jill Stein)

    1. Whose goals are you talking about?

      Your own?

      1. No, just the ones discussed in Reason articles (the 34% was tongue in cheek, people).

    2. Who the hell thought Johnson was going to win a 3 way race? That was never a feasible outcome. Even the debates were always considered a longshot.

      1. Actually, if he’d gotten in the debates, he might have had a chance of the higher numbers. But alas that didn’t happen.

        1. Yeah, if he got into the debates he may have had a chance for a Perot-esque performance, but that was always a longshot, and 34% and winning was never going to happen.

          1. As I said in a reply above, the 34% was tongue in cheek (that GJ would actually win) — get a funny bone.

    3. 5% will get automatic ballot access in a lot of states, even if he doesn’t hit 5% nationally.

  13. I’m guessing 3 million votes.

    1. > 6 million. Estimate purely based upon campaign financing.
      IIRC, He raised $2 million last time to get 1 million votes in 2012, and is currently at $12 million raised this cycle.

      1. If it worked like that, Bloomers’ friends in Colorado would still be in office.

        1. And Jeb would be solidly beating Hillary in the general election.

      2. Is that counting the big money supposedly raised by Weld?

  14. Damn, so weld endorsing hillary and pissing me off has cost the LP 10 mil?

    1. weld endorsing hillary

      When did that happen? This is the second time I’ve seen someone claim it the last couple of days The only thing I’ve been to find on it is this.

      His statement on Oct. 25th, which is at the link above, doesn’t specifically endorse Hillary by name. Shit, he didn’t even mention her name even once. Apparently, what’s happened is he made this anti-Trump statement and the left wing mainstream media (but I repeat myself) jumped all over it as Weld “endorsing” Hillary. And apparently some people here are stupid enough to buy it.

      If you don’t want to vote for Johnson out of principle over “Nazi cakes” or something, then that’s fine, but if you’ve decided not to vote for him because of Weld “endorsing” Hillary, which is clearly a lie, then you’re allowing to be manipulated by the media and the Clinton campaign (but again, I repeat myself). Don’t fall for that shit.

      1. I read what weld actually said, and to me anything short of “fuck that lying criminal cunt and anybody dumb enough to vote for her” is an endorsement.

        1. By that “logic” then Donald Trump has endorsed her too since he hasn’t said “fuck that lying criminal cunt and anybody dumb enough to vote for her.”

          But whatever, do what you will. I don’t even care anymore. It’s pointless trying to reason with anyone of any political stripe at this point.

          1. I think Trump may have tweeted those exact words in fact.

      2. The Boston Globe made it up out of whole cloth.

  15. I bet a lot of Trump voters were parking their vote with Johnson. Like it or not Trump is going to win the election.

  16. 4.9%? How convenient! We have a clown on the right that didn’t know what the nuclear triad was and a circus monkey on the left that lied to America. Stick your poll numbers where the sun don’t shine!
    Johnson/Weld 2016!

  17. Clinton will win. Sane Americans understand that divided government is less terrible than Congress and the President cooperating.

    As for Johnson, it was never going to happen. And contrary to the smartest idiots in the room–the LP party stalwarts–ideological purity has pretty much nothing to do with Johnson’s showing. The gladiatorial showdown between an megalomaniac Oompla-Loompla and the Wicked Witch of the Pantsuit sucked all of the oxygen out of the room. And the dirty not-so-secret is that America is never happier while than decrying a shit-show while raptly watching every second.

    If the LP wants it five percent, it needs to play the game an nominate a celebrity. Find the person with the highest name recognition and public profile willing to go through the ugly process and hope they are the most famous person in the room. Fuck qualifications. Figure out how much Morgan Freeman makes for a movie and ink him for a yearlong deal playing the part of Libertarian presidential candidate. $100 million? Money well spent. If the LP can’t make a move in an election with the two horrific options… it’s doing something fundamentally wrong.

    1. Nice to see you again.

      I don’t think I’ve seen you here for a long time.

      1. I read Reason (and support the Reason foundation), but grew a bit tired of the H&R forum. You know the old saw… I love the philosophy, it’s the adherents I can’t stand. As I recall, Ken, you were a well-spoken, thoughtful individual. I trust you remain the same.

    2. If the LP wants it five percent, it needs to play the game an nominate a celebrity. Find the person with the highest name recognition and public profile willing to go through the ugly process and hope they are the most famous person in the room.

      Kurt Russell/ Vince Vaughn 2020!

      1. I’m not sure Kurt Russell pulls 5%, but Snake Pliskin would.

  18. i haven’t worried too much about his lack of political skill, but if he really doesn’t get at least 5%, then that’s honestly just about as much a wasted opportunity as we’ve ever seen in politics and he should be embarrassed.

  19. I’ve considered this scenario during at least one sleepless night…. Gary wins New Mexico, McMullin wins Utah… Neither Trump nor Hillary get 270 electoral votes… so since Utah has six electoral votes and New Mexico has five, Gary STILL cannot possibly win since the House can vote for only the top THREE electoral vote winners. That would be one epic bong hit Gary would pull on election night….

    Anyways, in spite of it all, voting for Gary without shame – I’m in Illinois where Clinton already won 75%, and hoping the LP clears 5.000001% and starts attracting better candidates down the road…

  20. Semi OT: FBI stumbles across a bunch more Hillary emails, some of which contain more classified information.

    In a letter to Congress, FBI director James Comey said that the FBI had discovered new emails in an unrelated case that “appear to be pertinent to the investigation” into whether Mrs. Clinton or her aides mishandled classified information while she was serving in the State Department.

    Wonder how/ if this effect the poll numbers? Who am I kidding? PHAKE SKANDUL!111!!!!!!111!!!!!!!

  21. Peak at FiveThirtyEight for Gary was, at least, the 10.4% from 11 September.

    Also, as I read this piece on 28 Oct, the 538 projection is back up to 5.3%. So, it’s volatile. Just keep doing your best and see what happens on election night. I still think Gary will beat the 5% threshold.

    1. I’m guessing a hair over 5 percent simply because the undercounting of folks likely to pull their Johnson.

  22. That’s not based on the polling average, that’s FiveThirtyEight’s “polls plus” calculation. A huge chunk of the calculation is a “trend-line” modfication that is lowering his projected average by almost a percentage point. In the most recent national polls, he’s still averaging 6%.

    1. Didnt he get 3% last go around, when nobody knew who the fuck he was? 5% should be pretty easy this go around.

      1. He only got 1% in 2012.

    2. And the trend line was skewed by the CNN poll outlier.

  23. Just imagine if his running mate hadn’t endorsed their opponent.

    1. ^^^This. I was screaming at my monitor while trying to figure out why Johnson didnt slap that Hillary endorsement out of his mouth mid-sentence.

    2. I haven’t heard a single person who isn’t voting for Johnson bring this up as a reason why. It’s nearly all hard line Libertarians who have the huge issues with Weld. Remember the NeverTrump pols who said they’d vote for the LP if the ticket was flipped? Yeah…

  24. I had a conversation with an acquaintance the other day who started talking about drug policy that literally sounded like it was taken from a Gary Johnson stump speech. This person also pretty much parroted other similar philosophies that made me think this person was amenable to voting for him. I asked who they planned on voting for, and if they looked at voting for Gary Johnson. Their reply was “I can’t vote for him. He didn’t even know what Aleppo was”.

    I honestly didn’t think the whole Aleppo moment had that much stank but this is apocryphal proof that sadly, it does.

    1. 53 percent of Americans think Allepo is an allergy medicine.

    2. Several people i know are using allepo to not vote for johnson

      1. They should be using Aleppo to not vote for Clinton…weird.

  25. Fuck you , Harry!

    1. I got that reference.

  26. Fantastic news — that welfare check would finally and forever destroy the Libertarian Party, and the ballot access claim is about 96% hot air (it would make ballot access easier in a few states for a couple of years).

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