Stein Included in Major CNN Poll as Johnson Slips :
As CNN prepares to host its very first townhall with a third party candidate in Libertarian, Gary Johnson, a new major player in the third party sweepstakes has emerged—Jill Stein of the environmentally conscious Green Party. Latest CNN polls (1) have Clinton at 42%, Trump at 38%, Johnson at 9% (a noticeable decrease from 12%) and Stein at 7%. Unlike the Libertarian party, who according to Alicia Dearn (2), was told they needed to include former Massachusetts governor William Weld on the ticket to be listed in the polls, CNN has apparently added Jill Stein to the polls with no strings attached.
Stein, a former longtime anchor at alternative left news outlet Democracy Now, is running an almost mirror image platform to the Bernie Sanders campaign, and it has been paying dividends. She is currently almost tied with Gary Johnson, despite receiving far less coverage than former Governor Johnson. The rise of Jill Stein has added a new degree of competition into the lucrative third party sweepstakes.
Both the Green and Libertarian parties view this year as an incredible opportunity for the establishment of a competitive third party, but most likely only one can win (or neither at all). The historic goal for any US third party has been to do what has never been done before—secure 5% of the popular vote so that ballot access will be ascertained for the future general and presidential election. While both parties may be doing well in the polls, the reality is that both parties are not even listed on the presidential ballots—both in 16 states or more (3, 4). The lack of ballot access means the only way a voter may vote for them is through the process of physically writing that candidates name in, and so called write-in candidates do not do terribly well. Other prizes that are at stake are that a political party will receive funding from the Federal Election Committee for their efforts in local elections, and also if one of these candidates polls at 15%, they will be permitted to share a debate stage with the democrat and republican nominees, the so called third party holy grail, but this possibility is becoming increasingly less likely as time progresses.
The emergence of Jill Stein has drastically reduced the possibility of a third party candidate attaining the requisite 15% for a mainstream debate appearance, and decreases the likelihood of a third party candidate attaining even the 5% threshold. While Jill Stein has done well siphoning the disenfranchised #BernOrBust demographic, she has no establishment backing whatsoever. Conversely, the Johnson campaign and Libertarian party has plenty of establishment support, manifested by under the table Koch billionaire support and William Weld, who is a prominent member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the most prestigious American political think tank and power broker in the country. Each candidate has what the other needs to make an impact : Stein has a grassroots message with proof of concept, while the Johnson campaign has establishment support. While the libertarian party’s establishment ties appear to give it the edge, the Stein campaign is showing how far party unity and a proof of concept message can go, and also how necessary it may be for the Libertarians to get their message and grassroots in order.
While the Libertarian party is more likely to do better in the election in November, the Stein campaign demonstrates the achilles heel of the Libertarians—party unity. The Libertarian party has some deep conflicts between it’s right and left caucuses. Johnson and Weld are more representative of the left-leaning supporters, but quick to warrant the disdain of it’s right wing supporters, who oppose several of the Johnson campaigns platforms, such as traditional CFR stated objectives like the Trans-Pacific-Partnership and an Open Borders immigration policy. The “alt-right” as they are called are generally and sometimes even violently oppossed to what it calls the “globalist” policies of the CFR and William Weld. This rift in the party has created a major disunity problem, a lack of motivation from the grassroots, and even calls for open rebellion. For instance, we can look at the Florida Libertarian primary to best elucidate this. The primary is between left wing military veteran Paul Stanton, who is endorsed by the leftist Gary Johnson supporters, and Augustus Sol Invictus, a Floridian lawyer who is perhaps a more hostile and younger clone of the former Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Both candidates are polar opposites in a Stanton who is an open border “free-trade” advocate and Invictus who advocates closed borders and protectionism such as ending the Federal Reserve. While Stanton is favored to win, this race itself personifies the biggest impediment to Libertarian success, and that is party disunity. Ultimately, this disunity is what is most likely to keep the LP from attaining it’s targeted 5% popular vote support.
My projection is that neither the Green nor Libertarian parties will achieve the necessary 5% for FEC funding. To the dismay of many third party cheerleaders, the reality is that most voters in these polls do not realize that both parties are not even on a double digit amount of ballots. I do not perceive a 5% vote as being possible without full state ballot access. While both parties still have time to gain ballot access on the more than 16 states it is absent on, the LP will fail as they do not have the grassroots support to due to severe (and perhaps avoidable with hindsight) infighting. The only way that perhaps the party can salvage their situation would be for the Johnson and Weld campaign to address the grievances of its disenfranchised right-leaning, dare I say Paulite members.
3 : https://www.lp.org/2016-presidential-ballot-access-map