The Commission on Presidential Debates has just announced which five polls it is going to use to select which presidential candidates get to participate in the general debates. Gary Johnson is doing respectably in some of the polls, but he’s not listed in the main question for many of them. Meanwhile, Jill Stein doesn’t even appear in some of the polls that have been chosen. What does this mean for the third-party candidates?
Here’s what you need to know.
CPD Picked the Five Polls It Will Use to Pick Who Can Be in the Presidential Debates
CPD announced on August 15 which five polls it will use to determine presidential debate eligibility. They are:
- ABC-Washington Post
- CBS-New York Times
- CNN-Opinion Research Corporation
- Fox News
- NBC-Wall Street Journal
If a third-party candidate shows support of at least 15 percent in an average of these five polls, that candidate will be able to participate in the general debate. CPD said that for the October 29 debate, it will apply polls in mid-September 2016. It will then reapply criteria from newer polls for the second and third presidential debates.
According to Real Clear Politics, the polls currently show:
ABC-Washington Post (Sunday, August 7): Clinton: 45%, Trump: 37%, Johnson 8%, Stein 4%
CBS-New York Times (July 8-12): Clinton: 36%, Trump 36%, Johnson 12% (Stein not included)
CNN-Opinion Research Corporation: Johnson polling at 9%
Fox News (July 31-August 12): Clinton: 44%, Trump: 35% , Johnson 12% (Stein excluded, but Fox has said it will begin including Stein in future polls)
NBC-Wall Street Journal: (August 1-7): Clinton 44%, Trump 38%, Johnson 10%, Stein 4%
According to CNN, the current average of the polls puts Johnson at 10% and Stein at 5%.
The polls choices aren’t a huge surprise. The main difference is that CNN has replaced Gallup, which many expected would be used as one of the five.
Gary Johnson Is Not Included in the Top Question for the Polls, But He’s Still Polling at 10 Percent in All Five
So far, Gary Johnson has not been included in the “top line” question for the polls and his average in the five polls is about 9.8 percent. (CNN puts his average at 10 percent.) He would need a boost to 15 percent or higher to have a shot at getting in the general election debates.
Many Johnson supporters believe that if he is included in the “top line” questions, he will have a better chance at polling higher. Right now, the polls usually first ask which candidate the person is supporting and then, next, if Johnson were included, who they would support.
Jill Stein Is Not Included in Two of the Five Polls
Jill Stein’s chances of getting on the debate stage are even slimmer than Johnson’s. First, she consistently polls lower than him. According to CNN, she’s currently averaging five percent in the CPD polls that include her. Second, she’s not even included in two out of five of the CPD polls. She may have to garner most of her voting support outside of the general debates unless her numbers start improving.
But that doesn’t mean her supporters have given up on getting her in. She has a town hall on CNN on Wednesday night that could help gain her name recognition. And, as far as her chances are concerned, her percentage will only be calculated using the polls that include her name. Fox has said it will begin including her in their future polls.
Stein is also pushing to open the debates. If you’d like to sign her petition online, it’s here.
How to Contact the Polling Organizations
Johnson and Stein supporters are contacting the polling organizations themselves, expressing their suggestion that Johnson be moved up in the polling questions and Stein be added to the polls. If you want to contact the polling organizations and express your concerns:
- ABC-Washington Post: Email langerresearch at firstname.lastname@example.org
- CBS-New York Times: Use their web contact form. We will include better contact information if it is found.
- CNN-Opinion Research Corporation: Contact Page
- Fox News: Contact the news manager at email@example.com
- NBC-Wall Street Journal: Use their web contact form. We will include better contact information if it is found.
Gary Johnson has the best chance so far of the third-party candidates for getting a podium in the general debate. It appears that the CPD is preparing for this possibility. Politico reported that the venues hosting the debates have drawn up plans for a three-person forum with a podium available for a third-party candidate. Mike McCurry, co-chair of the CPD, told Politico:
With Gary Johnson polling in some places more than double digits … some of our production people may have said, ‘Just in case, you need to plan out what that might look like. We won’t know the number of invitations we extend until mid-September.”
How do you think the choice of the five polls will affect Gary Johnson and Jill Stein’s chances of being in the debates? Let us know in the comments below.
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