Polling organizations starting to include Gary Johnson in presidential surveys
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He’s the longest of the long shots for President but it seems that the effect of Libertarian Party candidate and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson on the November showdown between President Obama and likely Republican candidate Mitt Romney could be more than merely imperceptible.
Johnson’s name is appearing on more statewide and national polls since he won the Libertarian nomination earlier this month and while the numbers are hardly overwhelming, he is drawing the attention of a few voters across the country.
On Thursday (May 24), the candidate who wants to slash the federal budget 47 percent (including military spending) while advocating for gay rights and marijuana legalization among other things polled at 5 percent in Wisconsin in a survey conducted by Reason/Rupe.
In a national survey conducted by the Washington Times and JZ Analytics released May 13, Johnson was preferred by 2 percent of voters.
Certainly not big numbers but in a razor-close election between Obama and Romney, Johnson could have an effect on who ends up in the White House.
Johnson’s larger strategy is to qualify for the three presidential debates later this year — an opportunity for him to spread his libertarian gospel of small government and maximum personal freedom. In order to get on the stage with the Democratic and Republican party nominees (something that hasn’t been done by a third-party candidate since Ross Perot in 1992), Johnson must poll at 15 percent in at least five nationally-recognized polls.
He’s still a long way from that number but the Johnson campaign’s first task has been to simply get the major polling organizations to place his name in the questions it asks potential voters.
At least one polling organization has agreed. On May 16, Zogby posted on its website:
Thank you to all the dedicated Libertarians who have called and emailed asking to see their party’s candidate on future surveys of the presidential race. Rest assured, we will be including Gary Johnson as we move forward.
It’s critical for the nascent Johnson campaign to convince other polling organizations to follow suit.
Does a viable Johnson candidacy hurt Romney more than Obama, just as Perot hurt George H.W. Bush more than Bill Clinton in ’92?
In its Arizona poll, Public Policy Polling seemed to indicate so. When having to choose between just Romney or Obama, Romney won in the PPP poll in the Grand Canyon State 50-43. When Johnson’s name was added, Romney’s lead dropped from 7 points over Obama down to 4 (45-41).
But the results were more mixed in the Wisconsin survey conducted by Reason/Rupe:
Gary Johnson voters in Wisconsin are difficult to categorize, as they agree with Mitt Romney supporters to end automatic union dues deductions, and think public employee unions have too much power and get better benefits than private sector workers. However, they are more like Obama supporters in that they are less comfortable limiting public unions’ collective bargaining, and are slightly more likely to vote for Tom Barrett (38 to 33 percent). They self-identify as Independent, but tend to lean Republican.
(Tom Barrett is the Democrat who running against Republican Scott Walker in a recall election for governor that’s being closely watched by both national parties.)