The Corner

Politics & Policy

Johnson’s Third-Party Run Hasn’t Lived up to the Hype

Despite all the hype, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has earned less than 10 percent of the electorate’s support. He has also failed to convince elected representatives that the Johnson–Bill Weld ticket is worthy of an endorsement, even when framed as an alternative to Clinton and Trump — two of the most unfavorable candidates in history. With 33 days until the election, Johnson’s support among elected representatives is nearly nonexistent.

In fact, Republican representative Scott Rigell of Virginia is the only current member of Congress, or governor for that matter, to endorse Johnson. And if all current state legislators are included in that tally, Johnson has a mere ten endorsements. One may assume that Johnson’s endorsements stem from his home state of New Mexico, but this is not the case. Of the 112 representatives in the New Mexico Legislature, only one state senator — Republican Lisa Torraco — has endorsed Johnson. The lack of endorsements does not determine Johnson’s public support, but it does provide evidence that he has failed to gain traction even in his home state, the only state where he is averaging 20 percent in the polls.

Johnson has also struggled to earn endorsements from those in his own party, such as former Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul. When asked about Johnson, Paul argued that Johnson “does not come across with a crisp libertarian message.” Paul even suggested that Green-party candidate Jill Stein is “probably the best on foreign policy.”

While politicians have by and large made the decision to endorse Trump, Clinton, or refrain from endorsing any candidate (like Paul has chosen to do), other public figures (mainly celebrities) have come out in favor of Johnson. Just this past week, Price is Right host Drew Carey and actress Melissa Joan Hart joined Johnson’s campaign. Carey, the campaign’s new honorary chairman of California, said he endorsed Johnson because “Gary Johnson is reasonable. He’s a real person. He’s a pragmatic problem-solver who knows how to govern.” Even with these celebrity endorsements, however, Johnson’s polls remain unchanged — he is only polling at 6 percent in California, for example, where Carey has hit the campaign trail. Heading into the final month before the election it is unlikely that Carey can help Johnson beat Clinton and Trump in a winner-take-all state. It’s just too late.

Austin YackAustin Yack is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute and a University of California, Santa Barbara alumnus.

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