This may be the first time since Ross Perot ran for President that a third-party candidate has a real shot at getting the presidency. Gary Johnson, 63, was just elected as the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee. The former New Mexico governor started polling in the double digits in national polls even before he was selected. With rampant dissatisfaction on both the Republican and Democratic sides, Johnson stands a chance at making a strong showing.
Here’s what you need to know.
Johnson’s Already Polling at 10 Percent and Could Be in the Debates if He Hits 15 Percent
Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, is already doing well in national polls, even before he got the nomination. In polls that pitted Johnson against Trump and Clinton, Johnson got 10 percent from Fox News and 11 percent from a Monmouth poll. He also got 10 percent in a Morning Consult survey.
With Johnson already polling this well, he has a shot on getting on the stage in the general election debates. To achieve this, a third-party candidate must get at least 15 percent of the vote in five national polls, which are chosen by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Libertarian Candidates Pull From Both Republican and Democratic Sides
As explained during the Libertarian’s presidential debate on Saturday night, Libertarian candidates pull from both Republicans and Democrats, which might open the door for them to get enough votes to do well in the general election. Some people have voiced concern that a strong Libertarian would guarantee Donald Trump’s win, but the Libertarian candidates themselves argued that, contrary to what you would assume, they actually tend to pull more votes from the Democratic side.
Many conservatives are unhappy with Trump’s receiving the nomination for the Republicans. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are still battling it out for the Democratic nomination. But if the nomination goes to Clinton, many #BernieorBust supporters will be looking for a new nominee to support outside of the Democratic Party. Although Sanders and Johnson disagree on many issues, such as government size, they do line up more on many social issues.
He’s Already Had Some Controversy in the Libertarian Convention
Libertarian candidates seem to like one another a lot more than Republican and Democratic candidates do. During their presidential debate on Saturday night, the candidates didn’t really fight with each other. Instead, the debate was spent sharing their viewpoints without tearing down each other.
But this isn’t always the case. There’s already been some contention over who will be the vice president. And during the presidential debate, Johnson was booed early on when he called William Weld “the original libertarian.” Johnson was also booed during the debates when he said that the free market bankrupted coal. But this kind of controversy isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all, especially during this election cycle.
In fact, controversy can lead to a candidate’s trending on social media, such as Johnson did multiple times on Twitter during the convention. This might actually help him gain more name recognition among the general population, which will help him in the polls. It will be interesting to see what happens next.