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Gallup Poll Matters Most to Outsider Candidates

Finally, Newport said they use their editorial judgment.

The other polling organizations may have a different routine.

For example, a CBS/New York Times poll -- which previously has been one of the five major polls used in an election year to determine that 15% threshold -- didn't include Johnson in its survey released Sept. 16, 2011 .

Fox News, after having excluded the former New Mexico governor from most of the debates it hosted last summer, allowed Johnson into a Sept. 22 debate because he managed to poll 1% among other organizations.

Third-party candidates must find a way to be specifically named by a polling organization if they are to have any hope of receiving 15% support in national polls.

"Typically if [polling organizations] don't include a third-party candidate it's highly unlikely that that third-party candidate is going to be polling 15% in other polls," said Newport.

Gallup has not officially named the polls that will be used for the 2012 debates, but previous election years have included Fox News, CBS/New York Times, NBC/Wall Street Journal, ABC/Washington Post and Gallup/USA Today.

Ultimately, the reason a third-party candidate who polls in single-digit percentage territory may be left off a polling organization's survey is because of time and money. Many organizations poll daily.

"Yes, it is a criteria of space, time and expenses -- one of the criteria we use," said Newport. "In theory we could go on for five minutes listing a very long list of candidates and asking people who they would vote for, but when we do polling we need to move quickly and expeditiously."

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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