Does Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson really have more than 10 percent support in the critical battleground state of Ohio? Or is the number just a mirage?
While most political observers and pollsters obsess about the numbers between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, a poll last week by an organization called Gravis Marketing showed the former two-term governor of New Mexico picking up support of 10.6 percent of 594 likely voters who answered a telephone survey between September 21-22.
While most all other polling organizations have asked potential voters to choose among Obama, Romney and “other,” Gravis included Johnson in its survey of Ohio, which holds 18 Electoral College votes. Here were the results when Johnson’s name was included:
11. If the Presidential election was held today and the candidates were Democrat Barack Obama, Republican Mitt Romey, and Libertarian Gary Johnson, whom would you vote?
“What it shows,” Kaplan said, “is Romney has a bigger problem in Ohio. His votes are soft when you put in a third-party name in there.”
In the same poll, when respondents were asked to choose between just the Obama-Biden and Romney-Ryan tickets and Johson was excluded, Obama led 45.2 to 44.3, with 10.4 percent choosing Other/Unsure.
So, if the numbers are to be relied on, are they a measure of Johnson’s strength or simply a measure of dissatisfaction with Obama and Romney?
On one hand, Kaplan said, “I think Johnson is doing well. He has a strong message to Ron Paul voters” but a moment later said, “Do I think [Johnson] will get 10 percent in Ohio? Probably not. But you don’t know, he could swing the election.”
In a previous Gravis Marketing poll of Ohio that was conducted September 7-8, Johnson received 4.5 percent. That’s a solid number for a third-party candidate in a swing state but it does raise eyebrows that Johnson’s support could more than double in the space of two weeks.
Kaplan said he’s considering doing another poll in Ohio this coming weekend.
Not as well-known as other polling organizations such as Rasmussen or Gallup, Gravis Marketing bills itself as a non-partisan research firm. It’s based out of the Orlando, Florida area and Kaplan says it has five employees.
Over the weekend, the Columbus Dispatch released its own statewide poll in the presidential race, showing Obama leading Romney 51-42 percent but — as most other polling organizations have done in this election cycle — it did not include Johnson among the choices for respondents.
In recent weeks, three national polling groups included Johnson’s name in surveys of US voters. A Reason/Rupe poll released September 21 had Johnson at 6 percent nationally, a CNN/ORC survey released September 10 had Johnson at 4 percent and a JZ Analytics poll had Johnson at 4.3 percent nationally. Update: A September 23 Zogby/JZAnalytics poll had Johnson at 2 percent nationally.
“We’ve had Johnson at between 2 and 4 percent in various states,” Kaplan said. “In a close election that can make all the difference. Remember [Ralph] Nader in Florida in 2000.”
Click here to look at the Gravis Marketing poll in Ohio showing Johnson at 10.6 percent.
And click here to see the Gravis Marketing blog.
And for what it’s worth, over the weekend, political writer Conor Friedersdorf of the liberal weekly magazine The Atlantic wrote an article called, “Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama,” and said he was voting for Johnson. Click here to read the article.