Gary Johnson Debates Update: Money Pours In, Campaign Takes Aim At 5 Polls

Gary Johnson’s goal to make it to the debates stage this fall with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump took a big leap forward on Monday, as his campaign blew past its one-day fundraising goal of $1.5 million and hauled in $1.7 million.

The Washington Times reports Monday’s “money bomb” — as Johnson’s organizers called it — helped the Libertarian nominee rake in $2.7 million overall in the month of August, and U.S. News & World Report says Johnson’s campaign intends to use the influx of cash to finance television ads in several key states.

In order to qualify for the debates, Gary Johnson must reach 15 percent in national polls. On Monday, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced the five polls it will use to determine which candidates qualify: ABC News/Washington Post, CBS News/New York Times, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, and Fox News. UPI reports the CPD chose those polls at the urging of polling expert Dr. Frank Newport, who is the editor-in-chief at Gallup Inc.

In addition to reaching 15 percent in national polls, Gary Johnson and the other presidential nominees will have to meet the eligibility qualifications listed in the U.S. Constitution — such as being a U.S.-born American citizen and living in the U.S. for the last 14 or more years — and have their name appear on enough state ballots to mathematically achieve the necessary 270 electoral votes to win the election.

On the state ballot front, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports Johnson received good news on Monday when Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted approved the state Libertarian Party’s request to swap in Gary Johnson’s name as an independent on the Ohio election ballot. The party submitted Charlie Earl as a placeholder candidate until election officials verify the 5,000 petition signatures required for Johnson to qualify for placement on the ballot.

Until Husted issued his ruling, there had been questions regarding the legality of switching Earl’s name with Johnson’s. Husted’s office issued a statement saying that Ohio law does not specifically address the issue, and “Secretary Husted believes the spirit of ballot access should prevail” in the matter.

Gary Johnson must run as an independent in Ohio because changes to state ballot-access rules in 2013 caused Libertarians to lose recognition in the state.

As for reaching the debates requirement of 15 percent in national polls, Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight also has good news for the Gary Johnson campaign. Silver, a statistical guru, points out that the five polls selected by the CPD are run by highly respected polling firms and — most importantly — “tend to show Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein doing a tad better” than in other polls. He notes that Johnson polls at an average of nearly 10 percent in the “fab five of polling” chosen by the debates panel, while the Libertarian polls at around 8 percent in non-commission polls.

Johnson, who describes himself as a social liberal and fiscal conservative, has until mid-September to get his poll numbers to 15 percent and qualify for the debates. UPI notes third-party candidates have only made it to the presidential debates podium twice since they began in 1960. John Anderson qualified in 1980, and Ross Perot made the leap in 1992. The first presidential debate will be held on Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in New York, the second at Washington University in St. Louis on Oct. 9, and the third at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas on Oct. 19.

Do you think Gary Johnson will make it to the podium for the U.S. presidential debates in September? Are this year’s third-party candidates, Johnson and Jill Stein, more appealing to you than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

[Photo by George Frey/Getty Images]