Crashing the third party
It’s being reported as a done deal, but the official withdrawal of Gary Johnson from the GOP presidential race will likely occur next week. Supposedly he’s dropping out to seek the nomination of the Libertarian Party, but apparently that’s not a slam dunk because others covet that ballot spot as well.
Gary had little to no chance of gaining the Republican nod despite his obvious similarities in platform to Ron Paul, a candidate who’s currently near the top of the GOP heap. Running as a Libertarian will get him ballot access in most states and might put the state of New Mexico (which went for Obama in 2008 but was thought to be a good chance for a GOP pickup) back into the Obama column. While it’s only five electoral votes, that may tip the balance in a close election.
As you probably know, there were a number of issues I agreed on with Gary Johnson, but on balance he was one of my lower-tier candidates based on his stance against doing what’s necessary to win the Long War. Yet he finished ahead of both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in my hierarchy. Perhaps a fresh look would have given him a few more points – certainly not enough to reach the top tier but perhaps high second-tier material.
[Just for comparison's sake, these would be the updated rankings based on candidates still in the race:
- Michele Bachmann (71 points)
- Ron Paul (68 points)
- Rick Perry (59 points)
- Rick Santorum (57 points)
- Gary Johnson (50 points)
- Newt Gingrich (48 points)
- Mitt Romney (40 points)
- Buddy Roemer (39 points)
- Jon Huntsman (25 points)
As I've stated before, though, despite his high score on domestic issues Ron Paul's foreign policy is a disqualifier.]
I’d also be curious to know – and I know one person who has read my site from time to time that may wish to weigh in on this – how many of the diehard GOP Johnson supporters will also change their party affiliation to Libertarian? Certainly there were a few who were already there and who may have considered eventually changing their status to Republican simply to vote for Johnson, but if you figure that perhaps 1% of Republicans supported him and a sizable portion of that group switched over, that could have a big impact on Libertarian numbers. To use the state of Maryland as an example, if one assumes Johnson had 1% support among Republicans and all switched parties with him, the number of registered Libertarians would nearly double. (As of November 30 there were 919,745 Republicans in Maryland vs. 9,724 Libertarians. Still, the Libertarians are the largest “minor” party in Maryland.) Obviously that scenario won’t happen but a few thousand new Libertarians in other states could make a difference.
And there’s a case which could be stated for Johnson doing well here, particularly as Maryland is a state figured as safely for Obama. (Why, I honestly don’t know, but look who other parts of the state vote for. I can only shake my head at the ignorance.) If the GOP nominee doesn’t have a chance, why not vote for the Libertarian? I’ve done that before in races where I knew the Republican had it in the bag – certainly there are parts of Ohio and elections where Republicans are the entrenched party.
If Johnson secures the Libertarian nomination he would become their fourth Presidential candidate with Republican roots, following Roger MacBride (1976), Ron Paul (1988), and Bob Barr (2008). The Libertarian Party has fielded a candidate in every Presidential election since 1972.
Update: in checking his website, Johnson claims “the two-party is over.” We’ll see.