2016 was supposed to be the year of the 3rd party. In a year where the major party nominees were the two most disliked candidates in our nation’s history, the opportunity for 3rd parties was never more golden.
It was predicted that Gary Johnson would break the 5% threshold, securing the Libertarian Party minor party status and making it eligible to receive federal matching funds in 2020. Yet all 3rd party candidates put together couldn’t even collectively crack the 5% mark this year.
Gary Johnson led the pack with a 3% turnout. Stein followed behind him with 1% of the vote, and all other 3rd party candidates combined received 0.7% of the vote.
Johnson was predicted to hit 15% in the polls this year and make it into the presidential debates, and he failed to do so. He was predicted to hit 5% of the nationwide vote, and failed to do so. He was predicted to win at least one state and throw the election to the House, and failed to do so. He was predicted to do well in his home state of New Mexico, and couldn’t even crack 10%.
Despite falling well below expectations in this year’s elections, many in the Libertarian Party are still championing his run as a success because he improved from 2012. He secured nearly 3 million more votes, and improved by 2 percentage points.
But when you do a little math and put Jill Stein and Evan McMullin on an even playing field, the picture doesn’t look as pretty for Johnson. Jill Stein was on the ballot in every state but Nevada, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Indiana, North Carolina, and Georgia. When you subtract Johnson’s votes from those states, his vote total drops to 3,546,066, and his percentage falls to 2.8%. This means that when Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are put on an a level playing field, they both did 2.8x better than 2012.
Let’s then take a look at Evan McMullin, a third party candidate who came out of nowhere and only had ballot access in 11 states. He hit the coveted 5% mark in two of his eleven states, while Johnson hit 5% in just 8 of 50. This gives McMullin an 18% ratio for the 5 percent mark, while Johnson’s was just 16%.
So Johnson’s growth since 2012 was really no different than Stein’s, and a no-name candidate with ballot access in just 22% of the states was nearly able to beat Hillary Clinton in Utah, and had a better 5-percent ratio than Johnson.
Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party is back to square one. As a result of Johnson’s poor election results, the LP lost ballot access in 11 states, and have still yet to reach even minor party status. The Libertarian Party has participated in 12 presidential elections, and because Johnson has again failed to reach 5%, the Libertarian Party will in 2020, for the 13th time, again attempt to hit 5% for the first time in order to make the LP a minor party.
But will this even happen in 2020? Has the Libertarian Party damaged its name by choosing a ticket with a gaffe prone low-tax liberal and a Soros funded, gun grabbing Clinton associate? Leftists are already blaming Johnson for Clinton’s loss, and conservatives feel alienated and betrayed by the party. They will remember this in four years.
The best thing that Gary Johnson can do is to go climb the highest mountain in Aleppo and never return to the liberty movement. He’s done irreparable damage to the party, and to the libertarian message. If the Libertarian Party wants to achieve minor party status and become a real threat to the political elites, it’s about time they start mimicking Ron Paul in every way possible.
The party needs to stand out and let its most radical voices lead the way. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump stood out this year because their messages were unique. A watered down message is unique to no one. But secession, revolution, anarcho-capitalism, decentralization, and agorism are the most radical ideas of all, and need to be put on centerstage in the LP.
If the Libertarian Party wants to win, they should take notes from the winners. Be radical. Stand out. And stand up for what you believe in. The Libertarian Party will get nowhere by nominating another Gary Johnson in 2020.