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Gary Johnson Polling in 3rd Place With 22%

The New Mexico Libertarian Party's candidate for U.S. Senate trails incumbent Democrat Martin Heinrich (40%) and GOP novice Mick Rich (28%).

With only 11 days before the election, time is running for short for Gary Johnson to pull off an upset and become the first Libertarian to win federal office in the party's 47-year history. In a three-way race that has featured a paucity of polling, a new October 17–25 Pacific Market Research survey of 400 likely voters was released this morning, showing Democratic incumbent Martin Heinrich with 40 percent, novice GOP candidate Mick Rich with 28 percent, and Johnson with 22.

The three candidates will square off in a second debate tonight at the Albuquerque TV station KRQE, which commissioned the poll.

"If it really was a Heinrich versus Johnson race, Heinrich might actually be in trouble," University of New Mexico political science professor Gabe Sanchez tells KRQE. "I think it's only the fact that you're splitting the vote that we're not talking about a more razor-thin margin of victory for him leading the election."

The two previous nonpartisan polls had Heinrich more or less in the same place, but Johnson and Rich in sharply divergent positions—21 percent vs. 11 percent for the Libertarian in the first, 26 percent to 16 percent for the Republican in the second (which, unlike the others, did not include "undecided" as a category). Averaging the three polls out gets Heinrich at 42, Rich at 22, and Johnson at 20. Emerson College, whose survey produced those first optimistic numbers, is back in the field right now.

Johnson's hope is that the undecided bloc—11 percent in today's poll, a whopping 30 in Emerson's from two months ago—are anti-incumbent voters still making up their minds. He also obviously needs to take more directly from Rich.

That may prove challenging. The Albuquerque businessman is tacking Trumpy in the face of the Central American caravan, releasing "They are coming" oogity-boogity ads and praising a visiting Steve Bannon as a "global thought leader for economic populism." Donald Trump received 40 percent of the vote here in 2016, even though New Mexico Democrats outnumber New Mexico Republicans by a ratio of 3:2.

All of which raises the stakes for tonight's televised debate. Johnson stressed at the outset of the race that the Libertarian Party sorely needs a "win." He also acknowledged that in a three-way race, "I'm the underdog, no ifs, ands, or buts." He's going to need some last-minute magic to pull off history.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I heard they found the bomber in Florida.

    Where's Florida Man been lately?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Doh, already reported.

  • Yellow Tony||

    Where's Florida Man been lately?
    Eurobeat'ing in my town. Fucker.

  • Red Tony||

    You know, Mick Rich should stop playing spoiler and just drop out already.

  • Yellow Tony||

    Mick Rich is a dumb name. His parents should abort themselves.

  • damikesc||

    Libertarian not polling great in an election.

    Not sure how this qualifies as news.

  • End Child Unemployment||

    22% seems pretty great to me when usually Libertarian party candidates have a hard time breaking 1% in the vote.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, he was a two-term governor. What's more interesting to me is that he's not doing better. The LP really needs fixing.

  • Vince Smith||

    He's not doing better because everyone knows he's an idiot from the last campaign.

  • damikesc||

    3rd place out of 3 isn't great, no matter how you look at it. Moral victories are commonly referred to as losses.

  • Fk_Censorship||

    Not tired of losing ...

  • Jerryskids||

    GayJay should "find" a suspicious package in his mailbox if he wants some attention from the media. Or start dating one of the Kardashians.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Suspicious Package was Crusty's stage name at the local strip club.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    He's going to need some last-minute magic to pull off history.

    Unfortunately that won't be any persuasive oratory on the debate stage.

  • ||

    The guy won twice, as a Republican. He's lost twice, as a Libertarian. There's probably a lesson in there somewhere.

  • JFree||

    Johnson's hope is that the undecided bloc—11 percent in today's poll, a whopping 30 in Emerson's from two months ago—are anti-incumbent voters still making up their minds. He also obviously needs to take more directly from Rich.

    Two really dumb observations here.

    First, the 'undecided' bloc has not dropped from 30% to 11%. These are two separate polled populations. One of registered voters (the 30% then, unknown now), the other likely voters (roughly 17% then, 11% now). Yes those undecided voters are the GJ target - but only if they are independent. Otherwise, they will either devolve to their tribe or won't vote at all. If GJ gets those votes it is pure chance/bandwagon effect - not something targettable.

    Second, it's pretty freaking obvious that he needs to take from Heinrich if he wants to actually win. Most likely by targeting independents in Dem-dominated counties like Bernalillo. Those are the folks who are actually up for grabs at this point - living in neighborhoods where the Heinrich lawn signs are. Course doing that requires a strong bottom-up ground-game and that's where L's really do suck as a political party.

  • JFree||

    The biggest mental problem that L's have imo is that they think we have a two-party system and they are the third-party. When in most places (read local/county level) what we have is a one-party system - where the minority party is completely up for grabs. New Mexico only has a few counties with actual two-party competition - Sandoval and Valencia being the only two that matter.

    L's have got to start getting comfortable being the D-alternative in urban areas and the R-alternative in suburban/rural. Even when that means that city/country L mice don't agree on policy priorities (and maybe even some philosophy differences).

  • creech||

    Interesting observation. There are lots of districts (I've heard up to 42% for some state house races) in this country where the majority party candidate isn't even contested. Maybe a good oppty for Ls to run in the unfilled major party slot? It might be funny to have an L pretend to be a totally socialistic D ("what my fellow Dems are afraid to say is, 'we want all your money'").

  • Jonrichter||

    I'm not clear. Are you saying that the blurb from the article contained 2 really dumb points, or that you are about to lay 2 really dumb points on us?

    The article never claimed that undecided voters were dropping. they simply pointed out the differences between the two polls.

    What I found dumb was the article saying "Donald Trump received 40 percent of the vote here in 2016, even though New Mexico Democrats outnumber New Mexico Republicans by a ratio of 3:2." By saying "even though" they are making it sound like the 40% result is surprising in some way. There is nothing surprising about it. If 60% of voters are registered D and 40% are registered R (hence a 3:2 ratio) you would expect Hillary to get 60% and Donald to get 40%. His vote total is exactly in line with party registration.

  • Yellow Tony||

    Libertarians are autistic.
    Autism is on the rise.
    Vaccinations are purported to be the reason.
    GayJay needs to follow this to win.

  • Kivlor||

    Libertarian Candidate for Senate, and former failed Presidential Candidate polls in last place!!!

    LIBERTARIAN MOMENT!!! WE'RE WINNING!

  • Yellow Tony||

    I feel bad for you losers who never witnessed the majesty of the real Libertarian Moment™. It only cost us Stossel, a war with the Fish People, and our traditional views on genitals. (The last one is not bad, but I feel I should mention it.)

  • Hank Phillips||

    We are. Libertarians win with every spoiler vote we earn. And sockpuppet tears flow freely just contemplating out 4 million unsuckered voters!

  • Jonrichter||

    More proof that America needs Ranked Choice Voting.

  • Hank Phillips||

    America needs forced Australian straddle-gauntlet elections like a stuffed owl. Antichoice voting is used to coerce every voter in Australia (ergo Blackouts), Ireland (Female Forced Labor), New Zealand, Northern Ireland, and Scotland (Nazi Abortion laws), and Malta (Comstock law birth control bans). States that adopt gauntlets are only trying to sabotage the LP's replacement of their looter kleptocracy by adopting a ballot version of Jonestown People's Temple Kool-Aid.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    What the hell are you even talking about?

  • Vince Smith||

    You are an abortion obsessed feminist cuck troll. Instead of talking about the issues that unite libertarians, you focus on an issue that divides them. Go vote Democrat if you care that much.

  • CE||

    Donald Trump received 40 percent of the vote here in 2016, even though New Mexico Democrats outnumber New Mexico Republicans by a ratio of 3:2.

    You do realize that a 3:2 ratio leads to a 60-40 percentage split, don't you?

  • Fk_Censorship||

    No, I don't think he realizes.

  • Anastasia Beaverhausen||

    Wrong. There are other parties and independents.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The LP wins all the time--with every bad law and coercive jerk our spoiler votes topple. Gary is learning, but still thinks a lot like a Republican now and then. New Mexicans are lucky to have this decent LP candidate to vote with.

  • Vince Smith||

    Johnson is a fake libertarian who says Jews should have to bake cakes for Nazis. Even libtards don't want to force Jews to bake cakes for Nazis. (Idiot GayJay doesn't know Nazis aren't a protected class.)

  • Liberty Lover||

    Can Gary Johnson actually get on the ballot in all fifty states? Probably not, so many of those polled won't be able to vote for him.

  • Mac61||

    I live in New Mexico. Gary Johnson's campaign is practically nonexistent and incoherent--no surprise. His slogan is "You know Gary Johnson." Actually, most don't. He left the governor's office 16 years ago. Many of us have variations on this slogan. {Sigh) Well...you know Gary Johnsion. (sigh) You know? Like, Gary Johnson, you know? The fact that he is one of the laziest and most unprepared campaigners around doesn't mean he wouldn't be great in office for this drought-stricken, impoverished state, but, you know, Gary Johnson is going to come in third. If you want to win, you have to make the case.

  • Anastasia Beaverhausen||

    What do you mean most don't? He only left the governor's office 16 years ago, and as we know, young people don't vote. The people who do vote are older and do remember him - that's why he won't win.

  • Sympatica||

    Johnson is going to give us a democrat in that senate seat. Way to go libertarians.

  • aed939||

    If New Mexico had rank choice voting with instant runoff, Johnson and other 3rd party candidates would have a chance of actually winning.

  • Rock Lobster||

    Three candidates and not a libertarian choice among them. It would be swell if the good people of New Mexico could forgo sending the most progressive of the three to the Senate, though, unlikely as that appears.

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