Libertarian Gary Johnson Should Win the Election

Posted: October 7, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

But What Good Will That Do Him?

| October 3, 2012


Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson did something amazing last week: got double-digits (10 percent) in a September poll of likely voters in Ohio. He’s simultaneously getting the usual smattering of positive press, the most popular of which has been Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic declaring that he intends to vote for Johnson. Friedersdorf explains that serious liberals should have serious problems with President Obama on war, civil liberties, and executive power, issues on which Johnson is superior.

Beyond that sort of principled iconoclasm, serious news sources such as NPR are declaring Johnson might likely sway the election in that third party role as “spoiler” for both Obama and Romney in swing states. Johnson told C-SPAN this week that his own polling has found that in New Mexico and Colorado, he takes more from Obama, and in North Carolina and Michigan he takes more away from Romney. A Reason-Rupe poll finds him taking equally from both nationally.

Is it possible the Libertarian Party, in a year of great discontent with both major party candidates, can make a real difference, or at least earn more than 1 percent, a feat that hasn’t been matched since the 1980 campaign of L.A. attorney Ed Clark and billionaire industrialist David Koch?

The biggest barriers to Johnson’s success are money and attention.

According to FEC filings as of the end of September, Johnson’s LP campaign had spent $1.6 million through August. Johnson told C-SPAN this week the campaign has spent more than $2 million. (In comparison, Bob Barr spent $1.4 million in his 2008 Libertarian campaign.) While Politico reported in late September that “significant super PAC support for Johnson has yet to materialize,” at least one Johnson-oriented SuperPac, Freedom and Liberty PAC, has spent to support Johnson in August and September, according to FEC filings, $35,000 on telephone surveys, $80,000 on making TV commercials, $100,000 on a website, and a quarter million on advertising in August and September.

Money is so important that Johnson’s campaign did something liable to piss off many hardcore libertarians who don’t believe in publicly financed elections. He sued the FEC, trying to get $750,000 out of them before the election that he claims he is legally entitled to and has not received, as the Miami Herald reported last week. (Johnson has qualified for some federal matching funds, under a separate funding program, and the Herald reports he has gotten $303,000.)

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