In a recent interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” one time Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, got to talking about the debate stage.
In particular, Sanders was asked about the 15% in 5 major polls requirement necessary for parties to take the stage. This isn’t difficult to do if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, but for 3rd parties, this a long, steep road. In particular, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who has reached double digits in some polls, but not quite the 15% necessary.
When asked about the requirement, after being asked about Johnson, Sanders responded with “…it’s probably too high.”
The 15% threshold that needs to be crossed was a rule that was implemented in 2000 by the Commission on Presidential Debates, an organization that was founded by Republicans and Democrats to see over every aspect of the debate stage, and has been called out on multiple occasion for making it too difficult for anyone with anything but an R or D next to their name to get behind a podium.
Johnson himself, despite having so far failed to achieve the necessary poll results to reach the debate stage has caused massive damage to candidates by taking votes from groups like the under 35 vote, active military, and polling high in important places like swing states. Between the other two candidates, Johnson has surprisingly damaged Hillary more than Trump, due to the DNC’s treatment of Bernie Sanders.
So it’s interesting that Sanders thinks the bar should be lowered for candidates like Gary Johnson, where a lot of his former support has been going. Interestingly enough, Sanders and Johnson line up with one another on many a social issue, which has made him attractive to would be Democratic voters. Johnson has recognized this, and courts former Sanders voters regularly.
Regardless, over 60% of Americans have said they would like to see Johnson in the debates. Whether or not the CPD will allow that to happen – despite the President of the CPD saying he may bend the rules for Johnson – remains to be seen, but as it stands, many agree that the current rules are too difficult to overcome.