Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee for president, announced on Tuesday evening that he and his running mate, Bill Weld, have secured a spot on the election ballots in all 50 states and Washington D.C. According to the Libertarian Party website, Rhode Island was the final state to add Johnson-Weld to the ballot.
As reported in the Washington Examiner, Johnson released a statement saying:
‘With a majority of Americans wanting a choice other than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, today we know for certain that on Election Day, every voter in America will have that alternative option.
‘And today we also know that the only other option on every American voter’s ballot will be myself and Gov. Weld.’
Since the announcement of his bid for the presidency in January, the former governor of New Mexico and his running mate have been pushing hard to get enough support to appear on every ballot in the nation. To date, they have received better access to state ballots than the other third-party candidates: Jill Stein of the Green Party and independent Evan McMullin.
The Libertarian presidential ticket of Johnson and Weld are averaging 9 percent of voter support in polls in a four-way race against Stein, Donald Trump – the Republican nominee, Hillary Clinton – the Democrat. The Libertarian needs 15 percent of voter support in order to be included in the presidential debate.
Ironically, even though only nine percent of voters say they support the third-party candidate, 62 percent of voters say that Johnson should be included in the debates.
According to Johnson’s running mate, Gov. Weld, 76 percent of Americans want to see the Libertarian nominee hit the debate stage. But this is debunked by the Pulitzer Prize winning fact-checking site, PolitiFact:
‘Gary Johnson’s running mate said 76% of Americans want Johnson in debates, but his phrasing overstates the case.’
Gary Johnson's running mate said 76% of Americans want Johnson in debates, but his phrasing overstates the case. https://t.co/efFj9DJApH
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) September 13, 2016
According to PolitiFact, the figure comes from a Sept. 1 Suffolk University Poll sponsored by USA Today. The results of the poll show that 76 percent of voters think that if a third-party candidate is certified by a majority of state ballots, they should be included in the presidential elections:
In an op-ed in the LA Times, written by Johnson’s campaign manager, Ron Nielson, the problems of reaching the national debate stage for a third-party candidate are associated with the polls used to decide who is included in the proceedings. Nielson comes a lot closer to the actual numbers, quoting a Quinnipiac University Poll, which still show that many American voters would like to see the Libertarians hit the debate stage.
According to Nielson, the nation’s dissatisfaction with the current major candidates seems to have provided third-party candidates with more voter interest than ever. Nielson states that Johnson has pegged the 15 percent mark in a number of states, and runs in double digits in others. According to The Washington Post, Johnson has double digit support in 42 states. The Commission on Presidential Debates uses national averages and only a handful of established polls from traditional media sources, making it difficult for less well-known (or less well-funded) candidates to reach the 15 percent mark before the debates are scheduled.
By hitting the benchmark of being included on all state ballots, the Libertarians may receive enough support by the deadline to be included in the presidential debates. It will certainly be interesting to watch in the midst of a contentious election with two unpopular choices at the helm of the two major political parties.
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