IVN conducted a presidential poll from July 15-24 asking independent and independent-minded voters who they would vote for if the presidential election were held today. The results found that 78% of respondents would vote for a candidate other than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
Receiving nearly 32,000 responses, the IVN survey posed three questions to respondents: 1. If the election were held today, which presidential candidate would you vote for? 2. Of the listed candidates (4-way race), who would you approve of being the next president? 3. Which political party, if any, best represents your views?
In the first question, which incorporates the choose-one, plurality voting method used in U.S. elections, Gary Johnson leads among the IVN audience with 35% of responses. Jill Stein came in second with 31%. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton polled at 13% and 9%, respectively, while a notable 12% wrote in an unlisted candidate.
The poll is not a proportional sampling of voters in the United States. However, while it further shows broad dissatisfaction with the major party candidates, it highlights a crucial reality about American politics: the media uses terrible metrics to gauge candidate viability.
When given an opportunity to vote for more than one candidate in a 4-way race between Trump, Clinton, Johnson, and Stein, support for the Libertarian and Green candidates was even higher. Under the approval method, Johnson and Stein each reached nearly 50% with Stein polling slightly higher at 49 percent to Johnson's 47 percent.
Clinton and Trump received a slight bump under the approval voting method, rising to 13% and 16%, respectively.
The bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates selects 5 polls to identify viable presidential candidates. To be deemed viable, candidates must secure 15% in these polls. If a candidate does not meet this threshold, she or he cannot participate in the fall presidential debates and will be excluded from the national dialogue.
The polls the CPD looks at to determine eligibility use plurality voting, forcing respondents to choose only one candidate, even though -- as the IVN poll clearly shows -- they may be open to supporting (or at least hearing from) multiple candidates.
Further, many national polls don't give respondents options outside the Republican and Democratic candidates.
Johnson is polling close to the 15% threshold in some polls, but he still must clear a tall hurdle to gain access to the presidential debates. Though poll after poll show Americans want additional choices in elections, and over 4-in-1o Americans refuse to identify with either major party, horse-race polling to determine viability keeps "outside" voices from emerging on the national stage.