Granted they omitted both 3rd party candidates from the accompanying story, but you have to crawl before you can walk and this is definitely a good start.
[The cynic in me knows that the reasoning behind this is that CNN knew they would poll low and the Commission on Presidential Debates can point to it as justification to exclude 3rd Party candidates from the debates.]
Q Suppose that the Presidential candidates on the ballot in your state included Barack Obama as the Democratic Party's candidate, Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate, Gary Johnson as the Libertarian party candidate, and Jill Stein as the Green party candidate, who would you be more likely to vote for? (RANDOM ORDER)
Of course, national polls are worthless because that is not the way the Electoral College works.
That said, the most interesting cross tab in the CNN poll is that when Gary Johnson is included he pulls 9% among likely Independent voters. This kills Romney's support with this group from 54% head to head with Obama to 46% in the 4 way. Obama is at 40% in both matchups.
Another place where Governor Johnson hurts Romney is among likely moderate voters. Head to head against Obama, Romney has 37% support. When Gary Johnson is added to the mix, his 6% drops the former Massachusetts Governor down to 32%; while the President holds steady at 59% in both.
With the two major party candidates being secure among their respective bases, Obama with Democrats and liberals and Romney with Republicans and conservatives, this race is going to be won or lost in the middle.
But what lies in the middle is roughly 30% of the electorate and this group is typically underrepresented in most polling.
With this in mind, is it any wonder that the Republiocrats do not want Gary Johnson in the debates? This is also the reason that the GOP is working so hard to challenge Gary Johnson's ballot status, especially in key swing states that Romney must win to get elected.
The establishment could be in for a big surprise come election day when Gary Johnson could out-perform his poll numbers by a large margin. This will be especially true if he manages to get any semblance of fair media coverage.
The middle is fed up with the partisan BS and could be just angry enough to pull the lever on November 6th for Gary Johnson.
Just you wait and see.