Gary Johnson May Not Make The Debates, But The American People Want Him (And Jill Stein) On The Stage

Gary Johnson does not appear to be doing well enough in the national polls to secure himself a spot in the presidential debates, even though by most accounts the American voters want him — and possibly even Green Party candidate Jill Stein — on the debate stage.

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) requires that a candidate must be polling at 15 percent or higher in “five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recently publicly-reported results at the time of the determination.”

Johnson’s poll numbers just aren’t there.

According to the most recent CNN/ORC poll, Donald Trump has a narrow lead over Hillary Clinton, 45 percent to 43 percent, while Johnson clocks in at seven percent, and Jill Stein polling at two percent. And while those numbers don’t sound particularly impressive, consider that four years ago, Gary Johnson got just under one percent of the popular vote, while Jill Stein got a small fraction of a percent.

But the national polling numbers — at least, as reported by CNN — don’t tell the whole story. Washington Post writers Lazaro Gamio and Darla Cameron crunched the numbers, and when you factor in third-party candidates into the polling and take a look at the polling across all 50 states, Johnson and Weld are doing much better than single digits.

In particular, as opposed to being an after-thought, Johnson is downright competitive in Western states — particularly Utah (where his campaign is based) and New Mexico (where he served as Governor for two terms). If he were to pull off a miracle and take those states’ electoral votes, he could theoretically keep Clinton or Trump from getting 270 electoral votes. If that were to happen, the House of Representatives would be tasked with electing the next POTUS, and Johnson could very well emerge as a compromise candidate.

However, impressive poll numbers in two states and hypothetical election scenarios aren’t enough to impress the CPD, and if he wants to be invited to the debates, Johnson needs to get those poll numbers up.

To that end, the Johnson/Weld campaign is embarking on something of a spending spree in the coming weeks, buying TV time with a view toward increasing their national polling numbers and perhaps securing a spot on the presidential debates, according to CNN. In a new ad, entitled “Been There,” Johnson touts his and his running mates’ experiences as governors of their states (Weld was Governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997).

“Give us one term, America. If, after four years, you decide you don’t like peace, prosperity and freedom, you can always vote a Trump or a Hillary back into office again.”

If TV spots and polling numbers don’t get Gary Johnson into the debates, he may have another card up his sleeve: public pressure.

Even though they may not necessarily support him, it appears that the vast majority of Americans, at the very least, want Johnson (and Stein) to be allowed in the presidential debates. In an August 26 Quinnipiac University poll, 62 percent of likely voters responded that they would like to see Gary Johnson in the debates.

Similarly, Johnson supporters (or even supporters of other candidates who believe in fair debates) are using social media to get their message out, using the hashtag #LetGaryDebate.

And in an extremely weird example of the Johnson campaign being thrown a [metaphorical] bone, Gary Johnson may very well be invited to host Saturday Night Live, or at least appear in a sketch. As Red State reports, SNL producers asked America who they wanted to host the show, and the people responded with a resounding “Gary Johnson!”

Do you think Gary Johnson should be allowed into the presidential debates?

[Photo by AP Photo/Scott Morgan]

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