July 24, 2012

Like Ralph Nader in 2000, Gary Johnson could throw the election.

Nader's 97,000 votes in Florida represented the difference between winning and losing Florida for Al Gore, and Gary Johnson could tip Arizona/Colorado/New Hampshire/New Mexico, where he's polling 9%/7%/7%/13% (if the pollsters are including him).

Unlike Nader, Johnson could hurt either of the 2 major-party candidates. It's more likely that he'll hurt Romney, but possibly not in Colorado and New Mexico. He could draw off erstwhile Obama supporters. If you're in a swing state, you have to want to make the point of giving no help to either of the 2 individuals who have an actual shot at winning. It's not enough to simply prefer Gary Johnson. (Take the I Side With test and see if you do align with him.)

Who are these people who not only want to say I prefer Johnson but also I decline to have any effect on the outcome? In 2000, the people who voted for Nader — did you know Meade was one? — perceived no significant difference between Al Gore and George Bush. Many of them went on to view that perception as quite inaccurate.

It's hard to believe the potential Johnson voters will think like that about Obama and Romney, which is why I think swing staters won't go third party this year. But I think the presence of Johnson in the race might affect how Obama and Romney fight in the swing states. Johnson is there as a refuge if the candidate we feel we're supposed to vote for offends us.

45 comments:

Left Bank of the Charles said...

If you assume Gary Johnson is running in order to sway the election, which was of course Nader's purpose in 2000, the trick is figuring out who he wants to sway it toward.

Because if his candidacy favors the other guy, and he wants to remain true to his purpose, he'll just drop out.

Revenant said...

It's hard to believe the potential Johnson voters will think like that about Obama and Romney

Um... what?

It is very EASY to think that Johnson voters will think there is no real difference between Obama and Romney. The difference between Johnson and Romney is far greater than the difference between Romney and Obama; the same holds true for Johnson and Obama.

Honestly, if I lived in a swing state I would probably vote for Romney just to get Obama out of office. But it has to be admitted that nothing about Romney's history suggests he'll be anything other than another big-government type who will keep expanding the unaffordable welfare-warfare state.

wyo sis said...

Third party candidates seem to either not understand Left Bank's point or not to care.

Scott said...

I think it's too early to tell if Johnson is going to have a significant impact. But it's hard to believe that someone who voted for Obama in '08 would vote for Johnson in '12. He's more of a problem for Romney.

Lem said...

Johnson is there as a refuge if the candidate we feel we're supposed to vote for offends us.

Fickle moderates.

Shawn Levasseur said...

The point is to sway it towards himself.

Unlike prior presidential elections, I'm hearing people worried that Johnson would PREVENT Obama from getting re-elected, as well as the usual concerns of the Libertarian candidate making the Democrat's election more probable.

I see this as a bit of progress. Now fear of Johnson persuading away one side or the other's voters is not the same as actually doing so, but It shows that people are seeing him at a potentially attractive alternative for both would-be Obama or Romney voters.

ricpic said...

For a 3rd party to have any impact its standard bearer has to have solid name recognition. Since, outside the southwest, Gary Johnson doesn't even have that his 3rd party run will have a miniscule effect on the election outcome. But he may keep Romney on the straight and narrow and that's a good thing.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I don't think this is the year for a "protest" candidate. We already tried that in 2008 and it didn't work.

edutcher said...

Think 1992.

How many people want to go through that again?

Coketown said...

At least here in Colorado, I can see Johnson hurting Obama more than Romney. An initiative to legalize marijuana will be on the ballot this year, drawing many people from Boulder into the polling station. The intensity of Boulder's turnout is what swings this state. Denver isn't nearly as progressive as people think and is easily balanced by Colorado Springs. Obama doesn't exactly enjoy a positive reputation among marijuana advocates, and I can see Johnson pulling a lot of Boulder votes if he emphasizes the libertarian position of legalizing pot. I doubt anyone who goes out solely to vote for the marijuana initiative will also reflexively vote for Obama; he is absolutely despised by marijuana advocates in this state. Without a strong showing in Boulder, he will lose this state.

Original Mike said...

"For a 3rd party to have any impact its standard bearer has to have solid name recognition. Since, outside the southwest, Gary Johnson doesn't even have that his 3rd party run will have a miniscule effect on the election outcome."

How can you say that? If the cards fall "right", he only has to have an impact in one state. It was only 12 years ago that exactly that scenario played out.

Pragmatist said...

The difference between winning and losing for Al Gore was his opponents brother was Governor, stuff ballot boxes and a corrupt and cynical supreme court that helped to cover it up. And all the Reps could do was go "Kennedy did the same thing in 1960, nah nah nah". Don't blame it on Ralph Fader.

D.D. Driver said...

"Who are these people who not only want to say I prefer Johnson but also I decline to have any effect on the outcome?"

Who are these people who think that their one single vote has an "effect" on the outcome.

SPOILER ALERT: Your one vote will not matter. Not even the 2000 election came down to a single vote. So you might as well vote your conscious. Or stay home.

D.D. Driver said...

...or your conscience. Either way.

Cedarford said...

I remember after Nader cost Gore the election, not only he, but all his followers became persona non grata with the Left and the Democrats.
It killed Nader as a political player, and the Naderites learned that any employment application they had in with Democrats was trashed once it was discovered they were with Nader in 2000, or had given him significant money.

Same fate will await Johnson and any libertarian the makes big donations to him and gives the election to Obama.
They will be lepers and they will be purged from the ranks of Republicans and centrist libertarians and will have as hard a time getting political appointments, chances to run for office as one of bin Laden's sons.

Johnson will be hounded the rest of his life, just as Nader is now.

Lem said...

Good one Jason.

Coketown said...

The difference between winning and losing for Al Gore was his opponents brother was Governor, stuff ballot boxes and a corrupt and cynical supreme court that helped to cover it up.

At least you're not bitter. 12 years is a lot of time to heal and reflect and forgive. A lot, but apparently not enough.

Hagar said...

I wish he would just go away, but if he runs, I hope it will be on a platform of legalizing drugs.

Revenant said...

Since, outside the southwest, Gary Johnson doesn't even have that his 3rd party run will have a miniscule effect on the election outcome.

There are three swing states in the southwest -- New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada.

Bill Harshaw said...

Former Congressman Goode is trying to get on the Virginia ballot on the Constitution Party ticket. Virginia is usually seen as more of a critical state than either NM or Colorado.

Of course the signature requirements in VA are tough, as some Republicans learned in the primary, so this may be nothing

edutcher said...

FWIW, it's starting to look like NM is doable for the Romster, so throwing it away on Gary Johnson is looking less and less like a good idea.

Supposedly, he draws from both, but everybody remembers last time.

Revenant said...

They will be lepers and they will be purged from the ranks of Republicans

In reality, the 2004 and 2008 Democratic candidates for President were well to the left of the 2000 Al Gore.

Nader himself may have been hated, but the party itself veered in a Naderite direction and away from Clintonian moderation and triangulation.

Unknown said...

"Johnson is there as a refuge if the candidate we feel we're supposed to vote for offends us."

What if people just like his policy positions and appreciate his executive experience in NM?

Jay said...

Pragmatist said...

The difference between winning and losing for Al Gore was his opponents brother was Governor, stuff ballot boxes and a corrupt and cynical supreme court that helped to cover it up.


That is some funny stuff!

MaggotAtBroad&Wall said...

I would definitely prefer a President Johnson over the other two (and I don't do drugs - I want a society with more economic and civil liberty).

But since Johnson has no chance, I'm stuck with the lesser of two evils.

That means I must vote Romney.

Kirk Parker said...

Meade? -- strange new disrespect...

caseym54 said...

Much of Johnson's support comes from the marijuana legalization front. If one of the major candidates adopted a federalist position, where states were allowed to legalize, Johnson would have no more than the normal 1/2% that Libertarians usually get.

Obama has shown a willingness to pander (see gays), and the displeasure he gets now from the pot lobby is due to hinting at legalization, then reneging. He;d have less backlash for doing so than Romney would.

If Johnson has any presence in the polls in September-October, I fully expect this pander from Obama.

Sigivald said...

In 2000, the people who voted for Nader — did you know Meade was one? — perceived no significant difference between Al Gore and George Bush. Many of them went on to view that perception as quite inaccurate.

I find a parallel (not an exact one, of course) between that and a few libertarian types I recall saying, in 2008, that they were going to vote for Obama to "reign in government spending" and the like.

Turns out (!) that the Democrats weren't serious (!!) about reducing government spending!

(A hates B; I dislike B; therefore I should support A, is extremely faulty logic, unless there is only one alternative to B, and only ones reason to dislike B.

This was plainly not the case.)

Revenant said...

Much of Johnson's support comes from the marijuana legalization front.

Much, but not all. He also appeals to the anti-war and small-government crowds.

The two major-party governments want increased government spending, no end to the wars, and federal drug prohibition. A fairly big chunk of voters has a serious problem with at least one of those three positions.

Revenant said...

That should be "major-party candidates", not "major-party governments". :)

chickelit said...

Meade voted for Nadir in 2000? I knew he was fond of bikes, but I didn't realize that he hated cars. It does explain a couple things, though.

bagoh20 said...

Meade voted for Nader. Ha Ha.

Don't tread on me, unless it's for my own good.

We all make mistakes, I voted for Carter, but I was 18. Again, Ha Ha.

bagoh20 said...

There are a lot of "none of the above" people that will vote for Johnson just to express that they don't like either party. Well, either do I, but that's doesn't mean one isn't clearly preferable.

If I owe you $100 bucks, and I offer to pay you back either $50 or $80, and you say "neither", then guess what you passed up, cause I ain't got no $100, and Johnson ain't gonna win.

Now, I live in California, so I can vote for whoever I want, cause my fellow citizens are gonna vote for the 50 bucks anyway.

Drew said...

Gary who?

bagoh20 said...

If we can work it so Johnson gets exactly the same number of votes from each party then I'm all for him getting as many as possible, so lets get together with our liberal friends and work it out. Yes we can!

Rick67 said...

I align 95% with Johnson, about 80% with Romney according to that interesting test. But I'm not stupid. If the two *electable* candidates are Romney and Obama, it's a no brainer - my vote goes to Romney rather than being wasted on Johnson and possibly helping Obama come out ahead.

(But I live in Louisiana - so I can probably get away with voting for Johnson and not cost Romney our electoral votes.)

Tim said...

My usual republican vote was completely lost in favor of Johnson when the healthcare ruling was announced. Both main parties spend like mad and I think that there is no longer a case to be made for electing republicans so that they will nominate conservative supreme court justices.

Meade said...

Thanks to about 47,000 Ohio Bush voters who were not as reckless as I was in 2000, Gore still lost Ohio and the 21 electoral votes that would have otherwise given him the presidency. No, I mean it - THANKS!

Four years later, I was one of about 70,000 Ohioans who tipped it for Bush. You are all welcome.

Let's just say I've evolved. Can we?

La Pasionaria said...

I actually like the idea of libertarians of right and left to go third-party. It might be easier to find reasonable compromises between the people who remain in the relevant parties.

tim maguire said...

I hardly know who johnson is, but that test said i'm 87% a johnson guy. we're i to vote for him, my vote is much more likely to come from the romney column than the obama column.

I'm not impressed by the "shot at winning" line. Democracy isn't supposed to be about voting for who you think will win, it's about voting for who you think should win. Being on the winning team won't make me feel better about the fact that a guy i don't like is sitting in the white house.

Revenant said...

It might be easier to find reasonable compromises between the people who remain in the relevant parties

That'll be a hoot.

"Now that we've gotten rid of those pesky libertarians we can borrow TWO trillion dollars a year from the Chinese. That's enough for three extra wars and a couple of new unsustainable entitlement programs!"

Dante said...

I voted for Nader in 2000 and Bush in 2004 and think it would be a blast to share a meal or drink or with anyone else who also fits that bill. I doubt we would discuss politics, which is most of the appeal.

I think there are more of us than expected.

Joe Schmoe said...

I actually like the idea of libertarians of right and left to go third-party. It might be easier to find reasonable compromises between the people who remain in the relevant parties.

Now that's some funny stuff right there.

Besides, what isn't getting done to your satisfaction? If you are a progressive lefty, as you seem to be, you really should be thrilled with the direction of the federal govt. over the last 12 years. Even Bush oversaw massive expansions of Medicare/Medicaid and education.

What's this compromise that you seek?

Joe Schmoe said...

My usual republican vote was completely lost in favor of Johnson when the healthcare ruling was announced. Both main parties spend like mad and I think that there is no longer a case to be made for electing republicans so that they will nominate conservative supreme court justices.

Here here.

To those of you who say that voting third party is to throw your vote away, I say nuts. Republicans claim to be the party of smaller government and fiscal responsibility, but they just say that to get your votes. Who is a small-govt. Republican in power now? When did they effect any change to diminish the size of govt.? Who are the rubes throwing their votes away now?

Paul Ryan; great. Whatever. So far he's all rhetoric with zero results. He's part of a Congress that is responsible for runaway deficits.

Even the Tea Party congressfolk elected in 2010 have been silenced.

The Libertarian party won't likely be the agent of change, but someday it won't just be donkeys and elephants. Nothing is forever, and these parties have outlived their usefulness. If voting 3rd party hastens that time, count me in.

JFlee said...

Do you think Gary is legit? Or just like the rest? http://ow.ly/cwZYD