Come November, all of those "Never Trump" and "Bernie or Bust" people have to vote for somebody, right? Well, technically they don't, but if they do want to avoid writing down one of the two major party candidates, perhaps Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson is the answer.
Johnson will have to overcome incredible odds to win the White House. No third party candidate has come close to the presidency in the modern era. In fact, since 1968, only one third party candidate has even cleared 10 percent of the vote — businessman Ross Perot took 20 percent of the vote in 1992, but still did not manage to secure a single electoral vote. But the 2016 election cycle has been anything but predictable. So, yes, Johnson can win, even though history is not on his side.
Currently, Johnson, a businessman who also represented the Libertarian Party in the 2012 general election, is polling at around nine percent, according to an average of recent polling on RealClearPolitics. That is a significant bump from the one percent of the vote Johnson received in 2012. However, that is still a long way from catching either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, who currently leads most polls with about 44 percent of the vote. Johnson's short term goal is to hit the 15 percent mark that would qualify him for participation in the presidential debates this fall, a platform that is probably essential to him expanding his support.
By his own admission, Johnson is benefiting from the historic unpopularity of both major party candidates. He has made no secret of courting disillusioned Democrats and Republicans who feel opposed to idea of voting for either Clinton or Trump, especially young Bernie Sanders supporters. But he must still combat the argument made on both sides of the aisle that a vote for a third party candidate is essentially a half-vote for the opposition party. Johnson addressed that position in an interview with International Business Times in June.
"I would say that throwing your vote away is voting for somebody that you don’t believe in. Vote for who you believe in. That’s how you’re going to change things," Johnson told IBT.
Johnson will have to convince tens of millions of Americans to take that view by November. He argues that his "trend line" of support is skyrocketing upward and there is no reason to believe that will stop — this is a similar argument that Sanders made in his campaign, that the more his message spread the more people would come on board. But he will need to establish himself as a viable alternative to Clinton and Trump with a legitimate chance to win to cause the mass exodus from the Democrats and Republicans he would need to win. It will not be enough to just grab the most ardent "Never Trump" and "Bernie or Bust" supporters on the fringes of both parties.
Find out more about Gary Johnson's policies HERE.