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:

  1. Michele Bachmann (71 points)
  2. Ron Paul (68 points)
  3. Rick Perry (59 points)
  4. Rick Santorum (57 points)
  5. Gary Johnson (50 points)
  6. Newt Gingrich (48 points)
  7. Mitt Romney (40 points)
  8. Buddy Roemer (39 points)
  9. 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.

5 thoughts on “Crashing the third party”

  1. While I still plan to support Gov Johnson in whatever election he runs, I can’t see why there would be any need for Republicans to switch their affiliation for Johnson’s benefit. As if Republicans weren’t already irrelevant enough in the nomination process and electoral college, switching to a third party would only make matters worse… Sorry.
    Perhaps this is where I should make a pitch for IRVs (Instant Runoff Voting)…

  2. So, not wanting to think I’m a cheesy lyric in a Carly Simon song, I’ll go ahead and make a comment about Mr. Johnson. But first I want to qualify myself.

    I have met and knew Harry Browne (since 1996), know Michael Badnarik, and Bob Barr (Bob even replies to some of my emails: I have pictures of us). I also know Wayne Root, Dick Bodde, and other high level LP folks. I have NOT met Mr. Johnson, although I’m sure I’ll have an opportunity. I’ve stepped back from a lot of Party activity due to family/business issues, so I’m not nearly as active as I once was.

    Now to the meat of the matter; most Republicans do not make the transfer to Libertarianism easily. They are either 1) Too socially conservative or 2) Too fiscally liberal – read R.I.N.O.

    Let’s address #1 – To be a Libertarian in mindset, one must drop most of their social conservatism. Truly, you can not have have a Libertarian (note the capitol L) and still want to push a conservative social agenda. Marriage? Who cares.. Drugs? Buy what you want, and waste your life. Sex? Your own business with who/where/when. Business? Hey, if I could be the first person in my neighborhood to legally sell pharmacy grade heroin and methadone and make a good profit, with a Whore house upstairs sign me up! Military? Reduce it to half and bring everybody back home. Trade? Wide Open Baby!!

    Most Republicans/Conservatives have a problem with at least 2 of the above, most have even more than that.

    Now for #2 – The moderates, with a somewhat socially liberal attitude also see a need for a “stronger central government” that is actively involved, and is willing to compromise. They also tend to be career politicians. Remember, if a politician doesn’t get re-elected, they are out of a job. All of the Senate Republicans (IMHO) fall into this category. Every one of them feel that there is a “need” for Federal Government involvement in way more things than are necessary.

    Now back to Mr. Johnson, and Maryland politics/party issues. Where I live, you do not need to declare. I can vote for anyone in a Primary. However, I have found that even when a strong candidate switches parties, the vast majority of voters WILL NOT SWITCH party affiliation for a primary election.

    Also, Primary elections mean very little in Libertarian politics. Nothing is decided until the National Convention. We do not even combine President/Vice President in our convention. They are selected separately.

    So, my recommendation is that if you are a Republican, take a Republican ballot in your primary. Don’t worry, it won’t matter much. If you consider yourself more of a libertarian (note little l) and want to send a message to the Republican Party then take a Libertarian ballot just to throw off the percentages. You can still vote Republican in the national election.

    Finally, if you are really fed up, then dump the Republicrats and contact your local LP Committee and be part of the solution.

  3. Maryland is a closed primary state, with only the “principal” parties (R/D) having a primary. The Libertarians and Greens have a state convention to select their candidates, and they only appear on the General Election ballot.

  4. Too bad – it would be interesting to see the percentage take that Mr. Johnson has in a state where he has higher name recognition and a strong(er) organization.

    In response to Mr. Murphy and Instant Run Off elections – I agree. Things would be a lot different. I firmly believe that IRO’s would be a boon to 3rd parties. I also think there should be as part of the IRO a “None of the Above” candidate.

    Wouldn’t that be a hoot and send a strong message when N.O.T.A. candidates won an IRO.

    I will have to send a few emails and find out if/when Mr. Johnson will be in my neck of the woods.

    That aside, what is the fascination that the R’s have with the current field of candidates? Even Mr. Paul, who’s views I generally agree with has no marked leadership ability, despite his strong followers. None of them has offered a compelling argument or shown a willingness to assert a risky view or proposal and articulate it in a way that every leader must be capable of. The people want to believe they are doing the right thing.

    On top of that, none of them have ANY charisma – which will be all so important after all the primary hoopla is over.

    I feel sorry for the Republicans and the Tea Party, but they are getting exactly what they wished for….

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