NEWS BRIEF Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson desperately wants to be on the presidential debate stage this month—and recent polling suggests many Americans want to see him there, too.
A new Morning Consult survey shows that the majority of voters the firm polled, 52 percent, support an appearance from the former two-term governor of New Mexico at the first general-election contest, slated for September 26. It’s a small victory for Johnson: Though it’s unlikely the organization sponsoring the debate will actually let him in, these findings fuel his argument that there’s voter appetite for seeing a new face on stage.
Johnson and his Green Party counterpart, Jill Stein, are the most viable third-party candidates this cycle, and they are in the midst of a public campaign specifically to make the debates. They need these events to raise their profiles among voters, and to try to prove they can take on major-party nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Johnson and Stein are held back, though, by a debate-qualifying rule instituted by the Commission on Presidential Debates: They must average 15 percent support across multiple national polls.
As it stands, neither third-party candidate qualifies under that criterion—Johnson averages 10 percent support, with Stein around 4 percent. But both can now claim significant support from voters when it comes to seeing them onstage. According to the new survey, 49 percent of Democrats, 48 percent of Republicans, and 58 percent of Independents support a Johnson showing at New York’s Hofstra University, which will host the first competition this fall. Stein’s numbers are slightly lower, with support from 47 percent of Democrats, 42 percent of Republicans, and 52 percent of Independents.