Originally posted July 1, 2016.
Cato Institute’s director of polling, Emily Ekins, explains to Americans exactly what must happen to get the Libertarian party’s Gary Johnson into the debates.
I have been writing in support of a multi-party system for America much the same as exists in France and Austria as good examples. America has outlived the two-party system where both entrenched major parties are on the payroll of the neocon-centric military/industrial complex. You and I no longer have a meaningful place at the table. This situation must change and 2016 is the year to bring about the change most Americans know must come.
Fifteen percent is the magic number Libertarian presidential candidate and former governor Gary Johnson needs to reach to earn his voice in the 2016 election.
By capturing the support of 15 percent of voters in national public opinion polls, Johnson could join the major party’s presidential candidates on the primetime debate stage. With both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates disliked at historic levels and a rising share of political independents frustrated with the two major parties, this is the year a third-party candidate like Johnson has a realistic chance of getting onto the debate stage.
Johnson would need to receive an invitation to participate in the debates from the Commission on Presidential debates (CPD), a private, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) organization that has sponsored the general election presidential debates since 1988. The CPD is not a government entity, nor does it receive government funding. But it is a creation of the two major parties, co-chaired at its inception by both the Republican and Democratic parties’ national chairman.
Next, Johnson would need to have the support of at least 15 percent of “the national electorate” as determined by the average of five selected national public opinion polling organizations’ most recently publicly reported results, at the time eligibility is determined.
The key for Gary Johnson is to convince the major polling organizations to include him in their polls—and to continue to do so. He may be in luck. The 2012 organizations that are polling the 2016 election have included him in their match-ups against Clinton and Trump, with Johnson garnering: Fox (12 percent), CBS (11 percent), NBC/Wall Street Journal (10 percent), ABC/Washington Post (7 percent), an average of roughly 10 percent. Other highly regarded pollsters such as CNN/ORC (9 percent) Quinnipiac (5 percent) and Monmouth (9 percent) have also asked about Johnson this cycle, although they were not included in CPD’s 2012 recognized polls.
He’s not there yet. But Johnson absolutely has a chance of getting to 15 percent in the polls.
If Johnson is on the eligibility cusp, then the CPD may exercise subjectivity in determining whether or not he is allowed to participate in the debates. For instance, it is unclear how the CPD defines “support…of the national electorate” since in practice pollsters have different methods of determining who likely voters are and thus what is the national electorate.