Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are on the ballot in yet another state for the November presidential election, but a spot on the main stage in the presidential debates remains a long shot for the third-party candidates.
Johnson, the Libertarian Party's nominee, and Stein, nominated by the Green Party, qualified for the Oregon ballot before Tuesday’s deadline, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. The news inches the two most prominent third-party candidates a little closer to their shared goal of appearing on the ballot alongside Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in all 50 states.
But the big victory for Johnson and Stein would be the chance to challenge Trump and Clinton in the upcoming debates. Participating in televised debates would afford both Johnson and Stein more legitimacy and an opportunity to reach out to dissatisfied voters.
With Oregon secured, Johnson is now guaranteed to be on the ballot in 46 states. Only New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Kentucky remain in question, but Johnson has repeatedly assured voters he will be on the ballot in all 50 states. Stein is currently on the ballot in just 38 states.
However, if Johnson and Stein cannot secure spots in the upcoming presidential debates it will be hard for them both to win over a significant number of voters no matter how many states have them on the ballot. The rules set by the Commission on Presidential Debates dictate that a candidate needs to register an average of 15 percent support nationally in the polls to earn a spot on the stage. Both Johnson and Stein have a long way to go to reach that threshold. According to Real Clear Politics, Johnson's average support across all major polls is at 7.4 percent. Stein is averaging just over 3 percent.
In recent weeks, both Johnson and Stein have made the case that with the 2016 election cycle playing out in such an unconventional manner — both Clinton and Trump have record unfavorability numbers for major party candidates — voters deserve to hear their points of view.
Many voters seem to agree. A new survey by Morning Consult found that 52 percent of voters think Johnson should be included, while 47 percent of voters said Stein should be allowed to participate.
The first debate will be held Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in New York's Long Island at 9 p.m. EDT. The second presidential debate will take place on Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, while the final debate will be at the University of Nevada Las Vegas on Oct. 19.
There is only one vice-presidential debate. It will be held on Oct. 4 at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.