The Gary Johnson Effect Revisited: Is the Libertarian Hurting Hillary?

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Back in May, I speculated that the conventional wisdom that Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson would disproportionately impact Donald Trump was wrong, and that Johnson was instead pulling support from both Trump and Hillary Clinton in almost equal measure.

Fast-forward roughly four months, and it would appear the major candidates are realizing this as well — especially Clinton, whose campaign is now reportedly worried about the effect Johnson may have in a handful of important swing states:

…[A]s national and battleground polls tighten and Democrats’ hand-wringing grows more urgent, operatives both within and allied with Clinton’s political operation who are looking around to explain Trump’s new polling strength are growing increasingly wary of the former New Mexico governor. His appeal with young and libertarian-leaning liberals, they worry, could create a growing headache for them in western states like Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona — if not yet reason to believe he could hand the states to Trump.

[…]

Clinton has maintained a steady lead in both New Mexico and Colorado throughout the year, but her strategists in Colorado — once considered a core swing state — have been warning that Johnson could pull from her support there for months. While that hasn’t happened, recent polling shows that Nevada is still a neck-and-neck race: Clinton leads by less than a point there according to the RealClearPolitics average.

“My understanding is that Trump has remained fairly steady and the transition recently has been the Clinton campaign slipping in some of the polls, and where that happens it seems like [Johnson] or ‘none of the above’ is on the rise,” said [former Gov.

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Could Trump and Clinton Really Finish in a Tie? It’s Possible…

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the Electoral College and how Donald Trump could stop Hillary Clinton from winning 270 electoral votes.

The implied assumption from my piece was that Trump would automatically win by stopping Clinton. Of course, that’s not necessarily true — I left out an obvious outcome. What if nobody wins? What if neither candidate reaches 270 electoral votes?

There are two main ways this could happen:

1.) Libertarian Gary Johnson wins a state (or two) and throws off the electoral map.

This seemed like a more likely outcome in July and August. It’s little more than a pipe dream now. Johnson will almost assuredly be excluded from the presidential debates. His poll numbers continue to slowly decline, now hovering in the high single digits. Johnson supporters often tout Utah and New Mexico as states he could potentially win, but he is still losing badly in both places. A recent poll out of Utah gave Trump a 39-24-13 lead over Clinton and Johnson, respectively, and a New Mexico poll from late August gave Clinton a 40-31-16 lead, with Johnson trailing Clinton by 24.

Gary Johnson is not going to win a state. No way. But what if he did?

Map via 270towin.com

 

If Johnson manages to win Utah (six electoral votes assumed for Trump) and New Mexico (five electoral votes assumed for Clinton), in a neck and neck race where the battleground states fall in a certain fashion, a “nobody wins” scenario is possible.

2.) Trump and Clinton finish in a 269-269 electoral tie.

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Please, Can Someone Help Explain Religious Freedom to Gary Johnson?

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson recently sat down with Townhall.com’s Guy Benson for a fascinating interview covering a number of different topics. In “Part II” of the interview, Johnson intimated that he disagreed with his running mate Bill Weld’s one-time suggestion that Stephen Breyer or Merrick Garland would be ideal Supreme Court nominees, and he suggested that he would not be opposed to a bill protecting the unborn after 20 weeks (though he also insisted that he did not object to the pro-abortion Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling being “the law of the land”).

However, when the discussion turned to religious liberty, Johnson seemed completely out of his depth, something which should come as no surprise to The Pulse 2016 readers who have followed our coverage of his numerous, head-scratching remarks on the subject.

First, Johnson again tried to draw a distinction between Utah’s religious liberty compromise legislation and the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which Johnson views as problematic (though his reasons for doing so are flawed, as I pointed out here). Most tellingly, when Benson asked Johnson how Indiana’s RFRA law differs from New Mexico’s RFRA — which Johnson signed as governor — the Libertarian had a quick reply: “I don’t know.”

Next, the interview moved on to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision:

BENSON: … Was Hobby Lobby, the decision from the Supreme Court — was that rightly decided, in your view?

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Independent Candidate Evan McMullin Declares Run for President

Anti-Trump conservatives have been searching for a third party candidate for months to run against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Many of them, understandably, balked at the idea of supporting “Libertarian” Gary Johnson after learning about his positively anti-liberty views on religious freedom.
Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin
But today, at long last, after an exhaustive search that featured public flirtations with near-candidates like National Review columnist David French, the #NeverTrump’ers have found their champion. His name is Evan McMullin.

Conservative Republicans have recruited a former CIA staffer and top House GOP aide to launch an independent White House bid — and he could cause problems for Donald Trump in a key state if he gets on the ballot.

McMullin, who had been the policy director for the House Republican Conference, is a longshot for the White House at best — facing high hurdles in the form of ballot access deadlines that have already passed in many states — but will offer anti-Trump conservatives an alternative to Trump and Clinton.

In a post on his new campaign website, McMullin explained why he is running against Clinton and Trump:
Millions of Americans are not being represented by either of these candidates; those of us who care about the strength of the military and intelligence services find little to embrace in either Trump or Clinton.

Americans who believe in limited, Constitutional government that is smaller, smarter, and more accountable view both Clinton and Trump as symbols of corruption and excess that provide no hope of basic competence in the federal government.
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The Third Party Debate Lawsuit Was Just Rejected

“Libertarian” presidential candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein received bad news on Friday when Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer threw out their lawsuit aimed at entering the general election’s presidential debates this fall.

Johnson (former Governor of New Mexico) and Stein (physician) sued the Commission on Presidential Debates after both “failed to receive invitations to the privately-sponsored presidential debates in 2012”. The Commission offers invitations to candidates who are constitutionally eligible, have secured the necessary ballot access, and are garnering at least 15 percent support in public polling prior to the election.

The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that the Republican and Democratic parties, along with their respective candidates in 2012, “conspired to restrain commerce; monopolize; violate the campaigns rights to free speech; and intentionally interfere with prospective economic advantage and relations.” Together, these four complaints amount to one: The Republicans and Democrats have conspired to ensure that no third party candidate can get on the debate stage and benefit from the free media exposure that such a debate provides.

The Court rejected this line of reasoning because the allegation was “wholly speculative and dependent entirely on media coverage decisions.” As such, the Court ruled that Dr. Stein and Governor Johnson did not have standing, as they could not prove that they were actually hurt electorally by absence from the debates. Essentially, if the Commission were to allow Dr. Stein and Governor Johnson onto the debate stage, they would have to allow all declared presidential candidates onto the stage, at which point the debate would be such a circus that ratings would plummet and the media wouldn’t broadcast them because viewers wouldn’t be tuning in. Continue Reading

Johnson Op-Ed Clarifies One Thing: He Doesn’t Care About Religious Liberty

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Gary Johnson has a religious liberty problem.

One would think, based on the fact Johnson is running as a Libertarian, that the former New Mexico governor would be especially sensitive to the complexities of the debate over religious liberty. After all, freedom of religion is the first freedom enumerated in the Bill of Rights, so it would appear to be an important one.

But Johnson just cannot seem to put forward a thoughtful position on the subject.

Earlier this spring, during a Libertarian Party debate, the candidate was pressed on whether he felt a Jewish baker ought to be forced to bake a Nazi cake against the baker’s religious beliefs — and, incredibly, Johnson answered yes, though his reasons why were unclear. Johnson later backed away from the statement.

Then came the Libertarian’s nearly incomprehensible interview with the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney, in which Johnson described religious freedom as “a black hole” and made a rather strange comment about Mormonism relating to one person shooting another dead because God told him or her to.

Now, Johnson is attempting to further clarify those remarks in the Mormon-run Deseret News, explaining that the question was “thrown at [him] while walking down a street (in the rain)” and that he believes the country should “strike a balance between our shared American values of religious liberty and freedom from discrimination.”

But while Johnson takes great pains in the piece to assure readers that he respects citizens’ rights “to practice and to express deeply-held religious beliefs” while also opposing attempts to use religion “as a tool to discriminate,” when it comes to details, he once again fails to convey a deeper understanding of the issue. Continue Reading

Gary Johnson and Bill Weld Do Not Deserve Pro-Lifers’ Votes

From left: former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Lately there has been a flurry of interest in the Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, including op-eds suggesting that they are a sensible alternative for pro-life voters disillusioned with both major parties. I couldn’t disagree more. Johnson and Weld are unacceptable for pro-lifers. Period. Johnson has said he supports abortion up until viability, while Weld supports unlimited abortion on-demand, up until the moment of birth.

The United States is currently one of only seven nations to allow abortion on-demand after five months — more than halfway through pregnancy and a point at which research shows the unborn child can feel pain. Seventeen states have passed legislation to end the horror of these late-term abortions within their borders, but only federal legislation will get us off the list of seven extreme countries, which includes China and North Korea.

A majority of the U.S. House and Senate have already voted in support of this compassionate, popular legislation, but we are going to need to protect our pro-life majority in the Senate and elect a pro-life president in order to move this ball down the court.

There is no evidence the Libertarian candidates will do anything for pro-life voters hoping to advance this legislation.

Some have argued that because they support limited government, the Libertarians are the most acceptable option for pro-lifers because they will not interfere with our recent legislative successes at the state level. Continue Reading

Gary Johnson Continues Ideological Assault on Religious Liberty

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Not even those who claim to love liberty the most are standing by religious freedom today.

In a recent interview with the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson derided federal laws protecting religious freedom, saying that it is the federal government’s job to prevent discrimination.

When asked if groups that have moral and religious reservations about participating in same-sex wedding ceremonies could be exempted from anti-discrimination laws, Johnson quickly answered in the negative.

“Look. Here’s the issue. You’ve narrowly defined this. But if we allow for discrimination — if we pass a law that allows for discrimination on the basis of religion — literally, we’re gonna open up a can of worms when it come stop discrimination of all forms ,” the Libertarian said. “The problem is I don’t think you can cut out a little chunk there. I think what you’re going to end up doing is open up a plethora of discrimination that you never believed could exist.”

“I just see religious freedom, as a category, of just being a black hole,” Johnson added.

As a Libertarian, Johnson is running on a message of fiscal discipline, nonintervention in foreign affairs, and “social tolerance.” He claims that he and his running mate “really don’t give a damn as long as you don’t force your social-whatever-it-is onto anybody else.”

His support of federal nondiscrimination laws flies in the face of this declaration of “social tolerance.” Quite frankly, Johnson’s opposition to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and other similar legislation is utterly intolerant. Continue Reading

Six Things More Likely to Happen Than “President Gary Johnson”

A lot of folks in the Twittersphere are weirdly obsessed with Gary Johnson. I don’t quite understand the appeal. He’s kind of a dork, and he has absolutely no chance at winning the presidency.

In fact, here are six things more likely to happen than a “President Gary Johnson.”

6.) Bernie Sanders Wins the Democratic Nomination

Hahaha, oh, poor Bernie! The fix is in. But don’t give up! You’re still more likely than President Gary Johnson!

5.) Mexico Pays For “The Wall”

Probably not. But still a much better bet than Gary Johnson.

4.) The New York Knicks Win the 2017 NBA Championship

Okay, not going to happen. But still more likely than America feeling the Johnson.

3.) Hollywood Makes Another Terrible, Awful, “Twilight” Sequel

Unlikely, but still a better love story than Gary Johnson and America.

2.) Lindsey Lohan Returns to Make “Mean Girls 3: The Reckoning”

Guys, stop trying to make Gary Johnson happen. He’s not going to happen.

1.) Donald Trump Wins the Presidency

This is definitely happening. Gary Johnson’s live reaction:

Jon Schweppe is the Communications Director for American Principles Project. Follow him on Twitter @JonSchweppe. Continue Reading

Gary Johnson Is Surging — No, Seriously

Last month, I publicly wrote off Gary Johnson, the pro-abortion, anti-religious freedom Libertarian candidate. I didn’t think he’d have much of an impact. I may have been wrong.

According to two new polls, Gary Johnson appears to be the real deal.

My reaction:

But in all seriousness, in a Gravis poll of Utah voters, Johnson received 16 percent of the vote, trailing Donald Trump (29 percent) and Hillary Clinton (26 percent). Utah, remember, is a red state that really does not like Trump. Johnson is a relative unknown compared to the other two candidates, but with 29 percent undecided, one could easily make the case that he could win Utah and its six electoral votes.

But Johnson’s surge isn’t limited to Utah. In the latest IBD/TIPP national poll, Johnson received 11 percent of the vote. Obviously this is impressive for a third party candidate, and it really speaks to how unpopular Trump and Clinton are.

We will see if this is a brief bump for Johnson or the beginning of a permanent base of #NeverTrump/#NeverHillary voters. Johnson should do everything he can to get to 15 percent nationally. If he manages that, he will reach the threshold to be included in nationally televised presidential debates.

If he can get that type of national attention, raise money, and build a real grassroots coalition, Johnson may end up impacting this election after all. If states like Utah are really in play, he could manage to win a few electoral votes, which hasn’t happened for a third party candidate since George Wallace in 1968. Continue Reading