Third party candidates push toward presidential debate stage

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- We’re weeks away from the first presidential debate, but the stage isn’t necessarily set. Third party candidates still have time to shake things up. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are getting noticed.

“It’s more about the unlikeability of the two major party candidates that is driving this with Johnson and Stein that is creating this big opening. People are starting to think - is there some other option for me?” said David Byler with RealClearPolitics.

Election analysts tell us Gary Johnson is doing better than most third party candidates. He’s polling just below 10 percent. In order to make it onto the debate stage a candidate needs poll numbers up to 15 percent in five national polls by mid-September.

“If you take a quick look through history and think back to past third- party candidates, they have not done as well as him. In 2012, Johnson was polling in the low single digits heading up to Election Day. 2008 with Ralph Nader was again in low single digits. You really have to go back to 1992 and 1996, two decades, to find a third party candidate who is more successful than Johnson right now and that would be Ross Perot,” said Byler.

Ross Perot was the last third party candidate to make the debates. He took on Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. In their quest to make it on stage, this year’s candidates are focusing on fundraising and securing media attention. The Johnson campaign reports a nearly $3 million-dollar fundraising boost in the first two weeks of August.

While the third party candidates are working to get into the debate, Donald Trump hasn’t confirmed he’ll participate. Hillary Clinton she says she’ll be there.

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