Saturday, September 22, 2012
Gary Johnson, National Polls And The Election
Now, I'm a firm believer that national polls are meaningless since that is not how the election works, but it does give a good idea of a candidates national level of support.
In September, three major polls have included Governor Johnson; Zogby (4.3%), CNN (4%) and Reason-Rupe (6%). Doing a little math, we see that Gary Johnson is polling at 4.8%, so we have a baseline.
Let's look at the two of the most notable 3rd party candidates since the 1980 election; John Anderson in 1980 and Ralph Nader in 2000. (I've omitted Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996 since neither campaign was typical and Perot had the money to compete on an even footing with the Republiocrats)
At this point of the 1980 campaign, according to Gallup, independent John Anderson was polling at 14% among likely voters. A few weeks later, he dropped to 9% and in the last pre-election poll was at 7%, ultimately finishing at 6.6% (5,719,850 votes) or a drop of 53% in his level of support. (It should be noted that in the 1980 election, Libertarian candidate Ed Clark received what is still the highest Presidential vote total for the party with 921,128 votes or 1%)
In 2000, at this point of of the race, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader was in the 2-3% range with likely voters, also according to Gallup. In October he peaked at 5% and in their last poll before the election sat at 4%, finishing with 2.74% (2,882,955 votes), which was within his September numbers.
So, what does this tell us about where Gary Johnson will finish?
My thought is that Governor Johnson will finish about where he is now with somewhere around 4%, giving him in the neighborhood of 5 million votes, based on 2008 turnout.
My reasoning for this is because in 1980 John Anderson, even with his appearance in the debate with Ronald Reagan (Carter sat out) and his high level of media coverage, he had pretty much the same base as Reagan and once it became clear that Reagan was the stronger "anybody but Carter" candidate, his supporters left him in droves and he had nowhere to go but down.
I see Gary Johnson's campaign being closer to Ralph Nader's. Nader had a fairly strong base among liberals who were unhappy with Clinton's move toward the center and saw a Gore Presidency as Clinton's third term. He was also excluded from the Presidential Debates and while he had a good measure of support within some popular circles, he did not get much lame stream media coverage.
I believe that Governor Johnson will maintain his base with those who are unhappy with the Republiocrat candidates as well as disaffected Ron Paul supporters. Johnson's fiscally conservative, socially tolerant message also resonates well with independent voters who want Leviathan out of both their wallets and bedrooms.
That's my call and I'm sticking with it. In 45 days you can come back and let me know if I am a genius or an idiot.