A national poll released Friday (Sept. 21) showed Gary Johnson receiving 6 percent support when his name is included with Barack Obama and Mitt Romney while at the same time, the Johnson campaign filed a lawsuit against the Commission on Presidential Debates for excluding the Libertarian Party presidential candidate from joining Obama and Romney in the upcoming debates that begin in October.
We’ll start with the poll, which was conducted by Reason/Rupe of 1,006 adults, including 787 likely voters who say they “definitely” will vote in the next election.When asked if they would vote for the Obama-Biden, Romney-Ryan or Johnson-Jim Gray tickets, the results from likely voters were:
Vote for Someone Else 1%
Would Not Vote less than 1%
Don’t Know/Refused 4%
Johnson’s name will be on the ballot in at least 47 states in November.
The poll also limited the choices to just Obama or Romney and when that question was asked, the results from likely voters were:
Vote for Someone Else 2%
Would Not Vote 1%
Don’t Know/Refused 6%
Judging from those numbers, it seems a Johnson candidacy may hurt Romney (whose numbers dropped by 3 percent) more than Obama (whose numbers grow by 1 percent) although the margin of error in the poll is plus or minus 4.3 percent.
Johnson was excluded because the commission requires that candidates must score at least 15 percent approval in surveys from five selected national public opinion polling organizations.
Anticipating the ruling, the Johnson campaign later on Friday announced its lawsuit on anti-trust grounds in US District Court for the Central District of California.
“Someone has to stand up and call this what it is: A rigged system designed entirely to protect and perpetuate the two-party duopoly,” senior Johnson advisor Ron Nielson said in a statement. “That someone will be the Johnson campaign. We are today filing a lawsuit in Federal Court charging that the National Commission and the Republican and Democratic Parties, by colluding to exclude duly qualified candidates outside the Republican and Democratic Parties, are in violation of the nation’s anti-trust laws.”
The legal basis for the suit claims that the commission’s decision violates the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 by “indefensibly limit[ing] access of other candidates to the marketplace of ideas and the opportunity to be employed in these highest offices in the land.”
Johnson’s running mate, Jim Gray, is a retired Superior Court judge from California and a plaintiff in the suit. He’ll argue the motion on the campaign’s behalf. No date has been set yet for a hearing.
The last time a third-party presidential candidate made it to the stage with the Democratic Party and Republican Party nominees was Ross Perot back in 1992.
Some background on the Commission on Presidential Debates:
It was formed in 1987 and its rules on the presidenital debates and how candidates are selected have been used in every presidential election since 1988. Its leadership is headed by Frank Fahrenkopf, a former head of the Republican National Committee, and former Massachusetts senator Paul Kirk, a former head of the Democratic National Committee.
Back in 2000, Ralph Nader filed a lawsuit against the debates commission, arguing that corporate contributions violated the Federal Election Campaign Act. A circuit court in Washington DC decided in 2005 that it would not overrule the Federal Election Commission’s ruling that Nader and other third-party candiates had failed to prove that the debates were controlled by the Democratic National Committee or the Republican National Committee.
Unlike Johnson’s lawsuit, Nader’s legal action did not base its argument on a potential anti-trust violation.
Click here to look at the Reason/Rupe poll results. The telephone survey was made up of 404 respondents on mobile phones and 602 on landlines (including 208 without landlines).
Also, Gray — Johnson’s running mate — is a bit of a pistol. Check out this soundbite we got from him at the Libertarian Party convention in May when I asked him about whether voting for Johnson is throwing away your vote: