Election spoiler? Gary Johnson’s shakeup

By BO TAO | September 13, 2012

Could Gary Johnson be a spoiler in the 2012 elections? This two-term governor and businessman from New Mexico was a GOP presidential candidate before dropping out of the race after polling around 2 percent in the primaries. Following his departure from the race, Johnson joined the Libertarian Party and eventually received its nomination for president.

Recently, his impact on the race has been felt in polling around the country. In western states such as Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, Johnson has been polling anywhere from 7 percent to 13 percent. In other states like New Hampshire, Johnson’s coming in at just under 10 percent. Nationally, he’s polling around 5 percent.

In the West, Johnson will most likely take votes away from Romney and Obama on Election Day. What makes this candidate a possible attractive alternative for voters in these states is that he has platforms which are socially progressive and fiscally conservative, which attract a majority of independents in America. He supports marriage equality, abortion rights, drug decriminalization, legalization of marijuana and civil liberties, but at the same time favors a limited government, an antiwar foreign policy, and less government spending. Among his greatest accomplishments as governor of New Mexico were ensuring no tax increases, facilitating infrastructure programs and reducing state spending by balancing the budget and paying off debts.

The attraction of this third party candidate not only stems from independent voters, but also from liberal and conservative ones. Ron Paul supporters and Old Right adherents, who feel snubbed, alienated and cheated by the GOP, have flocked to his campaign after the Republican convention in Tampa. Despite the calls for party unity from Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney, Paul supporters refuse to support the GOP presidential candidate and cling to Johnson’s ideological consistency.

Liberal disillusionment in regard to violations of civil liberties, continued war in the Middle East, crackdown on marijuana dispensaries and increased prosecution of whistleblowers has caused many former Obama supporters to become disillusioned with the promises of “hope” and “change.”

More importantly, many Americans feel that the two-party system is broken and would rather sit at home on Election Day rather than choose the lesser of two evils. With the economy still in shambles and Americans uncertain of its future, many voters are willing to give the third party candidate a chance, or at least show their discontent with both parties by voting for Johnson.

A Gary Johnson victory in the upcoming election is highly doubtful, but the prospect of a Johnson spoiler is almost assured.

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