Gary Johnson Polls Crash But Federal Campaign Funding For 2020 May Still Be In Reach

It only takes one look at Gary Johnson polls to know that the Libertarian candidate doesn’t have a shot at the White House.

After Gary peaked at 9.1 percent in mid-September on the Real Clear Politics polls average, Johnson is now sitting at some of his lowest numbers of the election: just 4.6 percent of voters, on average, say they will be casting their ballot for the Libertarian candidate.

For his supporters, it’s a dizzying defeat. Just a few months ago, it seemed like Gary would be the first third-party candidate to make his way to the presidential debate stage since Ross Perot in 1992. Johnson was just under the needed 15 percent in the polls to do so, even hitting that magic number in a few states.

Then things began to erode. It’s hopeful at best to assume that Gary would have done any better had he been able to spar against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Time and time again, the spotlight exposed the cracks in Johnson’s candidacy. Polls reacted accordingly.

Perhaps none of those blunders was quite as sharp a blow as his “Aleppo moment,” when Gary was asked by MSNBC’s Morning Joe panelist Mike Barnicle what he would do about the city at the center of the Syrian Civil War. Still, Johnson may have been able to recover. After all, even The New York Times erroneously confused it with Raqqa, the de-facto capital of the Islamic State.

Unfortunately, this misstep opened up what Gary referred to as a “pop quiz” in all of his subsequent interactions with the press. Soon after, Johnson once again found himself humiliated when asked to name a world leader he respected. His vice-presidential pick, Bill Weld, finally interjected with Angela Merkel. Many argued that it was a loaded question to ask a Libertarian for a world leader they respected, but the polls registered another drop.

That brings the public to last week, when Gary appeared to finally reach full-on meltdown mode. After being toted as a level-headed alternative to Trump for GOP voters, Johnson fully shirked that reputation in an interview with The Guardian where he lashed out against a reporter when he questioned the candidate’s statements that polls were showing him with a “10-plus” share of the vote. Further pressing him about his plan to eliminate all taxes in favor of one federal consumption tax, the candidate responded that he didn’t want to argue — before exploding on the reporter about marijuana legalization.

Some analysts have claimed that Gary Johnson polls are not an accurate representation of how the Libertarian will fare in the actual election, as pollsters aren’t sure of whom will actually vote this time around. Still, even up against two of the most disliked candidates in American history, he has failed to establish himself as a legitimate alternative. While his voters often blame media manipulation, even his own campaign has admitted time and time again that they wish they could “erase” his most embarrassing blunders.

Other political journalists, such as the FiveThirtyEight team, see his policies themselves as the culprit. Gary’s views jarred with what should have been one of his biggest groups of supporters: annoyed Bernie Sanders supporters who didn’t want to vote for Hillary. For a while, it seemed like every time Johnson spoke, polls sank. It wasn’t a terribly comforting reality for someone poised to take the nation’s highest office.

Still, that’s not to say that Gary hasn’t won some small victories this election. In 2012, Johnson didn’t even manage to capture one percent of the popular vote. Even if he only matches current polls with 4 percent, it’s still a significant increase.

It’s also one that tantalizingly close to what is really the best that Gary can hope for in this election: reaching five percent and officially making Libertarians a “minor party” with the Federal Election Commission. If Johnson manages to poll at this number on Nov. 8, he’ll open up the possibility of matching public campaign financing for his party in 2020 — though, as Reason notes, party leadership would have to decide whether or not to take that money.

Do you think Gary Johnson polls could still see a surge this week?

[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]