Green Party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson have little chance of making Presidential debate

Presidential Debates 2016: Gary Johnson And Jill Stein Polls Offer Little Hope For Third-Party Appearance

Outside the 2016 presidential debates, a vocal group of Jill Stein and Gary Johnson voters will no doubt be protesting the way that polls have prevented their candidates from taking the stage.

They won’t be the only ones irked by the snub. Negative opinions about the debate qualifications for the 2016 presidential candidates have gone mainstream: 76 percent of respondents in a recent USA Today poll said that they wanted third-party candidates to be given the right to spar with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Only 17 percent were completely against the idea.

Unfortunately for presidential candidates Gary and Jill, with just over two weeks left to go until the first debate on Sept. 26 in Hempstead, New York, that dream appears to be cast to wayside. Despite an almost unprecedented showing of support, Stein and Johnson just can’t seem to get enough momentum to push them to that main stage. One can, however, get an idea of what that would look like by viewing their third-party debate from 2012.

After months of suffering one of the most tumultuous campaigns in recent American history, it appeared that Jill and Gary just might be able to snag that 15 percent bar set to qualify for the presidential debates. In the state of Colorado, Johnson even managed to hit that mark in a poll released a month ago. On Thursday, a North Carolina poll from Quinnipiac University, where Stein is not on the ballot, also showed him reaching the required support.

Still, these small state victories mean little for Gary when it comes to qualifying for the presidential debates. No recent significant national poll has shown Johnson taking more than 12 percent of the vote — and those numbers, while comforting for his supporters, are clear outliers. In at least half of the most recent polls, collected by Real Clear Politics, he can’t even manage to break 10 percent.

Despite his long shot for the White House, Gary Johnson polls are still stronger than Jill’s. The Green Party candidate has struggled to retain even 5 percent of the vote in nationwide surveys. Even on the state level, Stein rarely exceeds this low level of support.

While Gary and Jill are unlikely to see a large enough boost in their presidential poll numbers to get them on the 2016 stage, both candidates have questioned the validity of the 15 percent threshold itself. Earlier this week, Stein penned an editorial for The Guardian accusing the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) of creating an atmosphere that made it impossible for third-party candidates to gain enough footing to make an appearance at the debates.

Jill cited the way that the CPD raised the requirement after Jesse Ventura, a third-party candidate, was able to win after entering in debates for the Minnesota governorship. Both Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan, Stein noted, criticized the way the CPD operates in the past.

“The CPD is a thinly disguised scheme to protect the two establishment parties from competition, and perpetuates a political system controlled by the wealthy and big business interests.”

On Thursday morning, Gary gave a sample of what his presidential debate performance might be like with a disastrous gaffe that dominated the morning’s election coverage. While being interviewed by Mike Barnicle on MSNBC, Johnson balked when asked how his foreign policy would approach the war-torn city of Aleppo — the epicenter of the Syrian Civil War.

It’s the kind of response that make critics wonder if the Libertarian candidate could handle the presidential spotlight. Though that is, perhaps, unfair considering Donald Trump’s demonstrations of his lack of knowledge about current world events. When asked at a Republican debate about the Trade Pacific Partnership, Trump insisted that it was a way for “China… to take advantage of everyone.” That was, as opponent Rand Paul pointed out, an odd statement considering that China is not a part of the TPP.

Unfortunately, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson polls indicate that a significant number of Americans might be just as oblivious about them; but, in the best case scenario for third parties, viewers may be asking themselves that question as one of them crosses the 2016 presidential debate stage.

[Photo by Win McNamee and George Frey/Getty Images]