Libertarian Johnson a Wild Card in Already Wild Presidential Race

Clinton, Trump's high unfavorables leave opening for ex-New Mexico governor

Posted May 31, 2016 at 12:47pm

 

Two days into his official presidential campaign, newly nominated Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is already presenting himself as a potential dark horse candidate in what has been a hugely unpredictable election year.   

Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico, said in a CNN interview Tuesday that his campaign would offer “the best of both worlds” between two unusually unpopular rivals . He also promised to campaign hard against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, a vow he sealed by blowing a kiss.  

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Several polls suggest that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton also has reason to be concerned. Recent surveys by Morning Consult, Fox News and Monmouth University showed Johnson would win 10 to 11 percent of the vote in a three-way race with Clinton and Trump. Almost half of all voters say they’d consider a third-party candidate if their choices are Clinton or Trump, according to Slate.com.  

If Johnson could boost his support to 15 percent in pre-election polls, it would set him up to be the first third-party candidate since Ross Perot in 1992 to participate in a presidential debate.   

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When Johnson ran in 2012, he was the most successful Libertarian candidate ever , winning 1 percent of the national vote, according to FiveThirtyEight.  

This time around, he will have a secret weapon in running mate William Weld, a former Massachusetts governor. Weld, an experienced fundraiser who brought in money for Mitt Romney in 2012, is expected to help the party cash in on conservative donors’ discontent with Trump.  If he succeeds, it could be a turbo boost for the party which, according to the Christian Science Monitor, had only $35,00o as of March. 

Contact Akin at 


stephanieakin@rollcall.com


 and follow her on Twitter at 


@stephanieakin

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