Former Governor Gary Johnson (R-New Mexico) became the Libertarian Party candidates for president last week, sparking a new discussion about the relevance of a third-party in 2016. To his credit, Johnson has polled at 10% in a recent presidential poll which included himself, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump.

The Libertarian Party hasn’t been able to make a serious dent in national politics, but that could change in 2016. Pollster John Zogby warns about counting him out:

I know that third parties have never done particularly well in our presidential elections. Former President Theodore Roosevelt won 27% of the vote in 1912 and received 88 electoral votes. In 1968, George Wallace received 13% of the vote and won 45 southern state electoral votes. And Ross Perot, after leading in early 1992 then dropping out July, came back to score 19% of the popular vote. But Perot won no electoral votes.

But this year history and tradition do not seem to matter very much. Age certainly does not appear to be a factor as two 68-year-old frontrunners possibly face off against each other–and one is threatened by a 74-year-old Democratic challenger. Meanwhile, a 93-year-old GOP icon suggests a 73-year-old former Speaker as Donald Trump’s running mate, and a 72-year-old vice president perhaps waits in the wings to be the substitute if needed.

The two parties appear ready to nominate two of the most unpopular candidates in the country and confidence in both the Democratic and Republican parties is at an all time low. Not quite half (45%) say they are willing to support an independent candidate–and this is late in the game. Trump has broken all the rules of engagement and Hillary Clinton faces either a possible indictment or at least some sort of serious reprimand.

As mentioned, Johnson hit 10% in a national poll. Here are the details on that Cleveland.com:

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee and former governor of New Mexico, is polling at 10 percent in two recently released national polls against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, reports FiveThirtyEight.

A Morning Consult survey published Tuesday found Clinton getting 38 percent, Trump at 35, and Johnson at 10, with 17 percent undecided. A Fox News poll conducted from May 14-17 showed Trump at 42 percent, Clinton at 39 percent, and Johnson at 10 percent.

Sure, it’s just one poll so far, so let’s get that out of the way. This could be meaningless, and it may change in a week. However, given the historically unfavorable ratings of Clinton and Trump, Johnson seems poised to reap some of the benefit.

Polling at 10% is just 5 points shy of the 15% threshold to be included in the official Presidential debates in the Fall. He’d have to meet that 15% threshold in several different polls over the summer, but if he’s starting at 10% before anyone knows who he is, that level of support could be attainable. If that happens, the race might just get shuffled again in ways we can’t even imagine. It’s been decades since someone besides a Republican or Democrat appeared on the Presidential debate stage, all the way back to 1992 with Ross Perot.

Gary Johnson could be on the verge of making waves for the Libertarian Party in 2016 with disaffected fans of Bernie Sanders, and perhaps disaffected Republicans who are not riding the “Trump Train.”

9 COMMENTS

  1. Actually, there have been three recent polls showing Libertarian strength:

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/pay-attention-to-libertarian-gary-johnson-hes-pulling-10-vs-trump-and-clinton/

    A Morning Consult survey published Tuesday and found Clinton getting 38 percent of the vote, Trump 35 and
    –Johnson 10, with 17 percent undecided.

    A Fox News poll conducted from May 14-17 showed Trump leading over Clinton, 42 percent to 39 percent, but

    –Johnson at 10 percent as well.

    Lest you think this is some fluky May development, a Monmouth University survey conducted in mid-March — while the political universe was still busy wringing its hands over the Republican nomination — found that in a three-way race, Clinton would get 42 percent, Trump 34 percent and
    –Johnson 11 percent.

  2. As far as I am concerned..Gary Johnson should have entered the race when everyone else did. Why should he just “pop in” now after the others have walked the walk and paid the price for the last 10 months. I wouldn’t be interested if I were Libertarian just because I see him as a lazy person wanting to get into the race now that it is coming into the home stretch. He has done NOTHING to EARN OUR VOTES! No..I don’t think anyone should think it is just okay to “drop in” if they haven’t been on the road, talking to potential voters, shaking hands and holding babies like the others have done. We have three people right now running..One of them will be our next president..Gary Johnson is nothing more than a space taker who doesn’t stand even a tiny chance to win..So what is his point?

    • He didn’t just “pop in” now. He announced months ago that he was going to seek the Libertarian nomination. Last weekend they held their convention and he was selected as their candidate. Since they do not have primaries there was no reason to spend time, money or energy campaigning when he was not yet the nominee. I’ve followed him since 2012 and he has all but said he was going to run this time since shortly after the last election. He rightfully didn’t want to announce too early as once you do a whole slew of rules apply.

      • Actually they do have primaries, I voted in his primary in Mn. However, libertarian primaries are about 3 or 4 per state and are difficult to attend. At the one I attended there were a total of 15 people doing the caucus. But great point, no real point in campaigning when primaries aren’t a huge issue. Most of his support comes from those of us who knew about him 2012.

    • He has been in the race for quite a while, just unknown. He ran in 2012 as well, and did a good race at that time also. Gary Johnson is funding most of his own campaign, and doesn’t have the funds that Trump has to fund. It’s understandable that he did not become as big until recently.

  3. Yesterday at 9:00am · Newsmax Website ·

    Jesse Charles Murdock · Truck Driver at SWIFT TRUCKING COMPANY

    Only one for Ted Cruz , This is what I doing I am a truck drive on the
    road go to state to state, I talk to people about Ted Cruz and why I
    writing him in, When I go home, I am going to pick up a phone book and
    make call to them, Tell them why we should write Ted Cruz in and what he
    stand for, If we would do this, it help a lot, Look if any turn to
    Trump, and say they was for Ted Cruz,They was not for Ted Cruz from
    the began, So don,t come on face book crying to us Ted Cruz people, We
    can not buy that saying, Once you are for someone you stay in it to the
    end, You have to fight for what believe in, Jesus did not give up, He
    stay in there to the end of his life, He gives us reason to go on, Any
    one is for Trump,That is running for office in MI, I will write my on
    name in, I will not support any one for Trump or any one against Israel
    ever, We Will work all together to put Ted Cruz in the office, So if you
    support Trump don,t come crying to us. Bill Kristol I am tell you now,
    if it is not Ted Cruz run on the 3rd party, I will be writing Ted Cruz
    in there.I am going to keep post this on Face Book till The Trump people

    understand that we are for Vote Ted Cruz for President 2016 &
    2020,Mr Kristol need to open your eyes and see we will not vote for any
    one you put up there,Not Trump or Mrs Clinton or Mr Sanders or Mr
    Johnson,

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