Gary Johnson's independent move: smart, irrelevant or Perot redux?
In an email this morning, Johson said that “a credible Libertarian candidate for president is the real path to liberty, opportunity, and a government that is put into its proper and limited role.”
Gary Johnson had been badly trailing the other GOP candidates for months and had no chance at finishing the GOP race near the top, but he states a different reason for jumping ship at such a late date:
In a recent national poll 63% of Americans said they wished there was a third choice for 2012. There is, and I intend to educate the voters about what we offer America.
If Ron Paul is the consummate Libertarian, then Johnson is perhaps a more moderate version. Where this might play in the general election is difficult to predict, but could give anti-establishment voters somewhere to go if Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich win the nomination.
An independent outlet seemed to question Johnson’s libertarian credentials by noting that “Johnson joined the Libertarian Party in 1993-4, but did not renew his LP dues after the first year because he felt that at the time the Libertarians were too extreme.”
Johnson would likely take more votes from the right than the left which stokes fears of another Ross Perot-style dismantling of the Presidential election resulting in another four years of President Obama.
Johnson is the former governor of New Mexico – a swing state in the 2012 elections. And according to a PPP poll, his independent run would likely split the vote in that state resulting in the electoral college votes from New Mexico going to President Obama. It would not take too many other states following suit to allow the Obama’s to keep the White House as their home address.
Johnson had little impact in the nomination race in which he attracted less than 1% of registered voters in most polls and many are discounting his independent run as sound and fury, signifying nothing. Patrick Griffin, a senior fellow at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College says that people like Johnson are “malcontents, and frankly, they should go on book tour.”
Ron Paul’s polling in Iowa and nationwide also give him a strong chance to be the nominee. If that becomes the case, Johnson’s message will likely fall on deaf ears.
Whether Johnson’s run has any impact at all in the 2012 election remains to be seen. It could mean nothing or it could mean another term for the current administration.
His announcement video can be seen on his campaign website here.