I’ve just been informed that there’s a third party candidate and I should be voting for him, so says one of my Facebook friends.
I work in politics. I also work in media now. I know who is running for President of the United States.
With Maker’s Mark still on my breath–and honestly, can you blame me after watching last night’s debate, I woke up to this comment. Still in bed, I grabbed my iPhone and commented that I believe their decision to fanatically insist that everyone vote for Libertarian Nominee Gary Johnson was akin to tossing their vote in the trash.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Johnson has raised $7.9 million to date. That’s peanuts in a presidential election. Senatorial candidates (and some house candidates) regularly raise upwards of $10 million in a race. Clinton and Trump have raised $516.6 million and $168.2 million, respectively. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that Johnson can’t touch the funds these two have. So already, he’s at a disadvantage. A $508.7 million disadvantage (compared to Clinton) to be precise.
Next, let’s take a look at some polling data from RealClearPolitics. Let’s credit Johnson for currently having the highest polling position he’s held in the general election. That puts him at a mere 10%, with Clinton and Trump virtually tied in the mid 40s. Given this, his most likely path to victory would require Clinton and Trump to both lose 12% in their polling ranks and for that support to go to Johnson. This has less than a 1% chance of happening.
I will concede that after this dumpster fire of a debate, Johnson is sure to garner even more support from voters who had previously considered supporting Trump, but who are now peeling off away the GOP. Concurrently, Johnson is also benefiting from the steady trickle of Democratic voters — even members of their base — who’re leaving Clinton’s side feeling disenfranchised. While Johnson is cultivating a following, he can’t grow it at the pace needed to win this election.
With $2.5 million cash on hand, 41 days until the election, and relatively low name ID, Gary Johnson cannot steal away a quarter of both Trump and Clinton’s support base.
Libertarians still believe in science, right? Math too?
At this point, if you’re still voting for Johnson because you think he can win, you’re ignoring political science, campaign finance, and general mathematics. I really have no idea how to reason with you if this isn’t enough. However, if you’re voting for Johnson for other reasons such as values, keep reading. Principle, I guess?
You only think you’re voting your values when you cast your ballot for Johnson.
Johnson’s position on the issues may be dead in-line with your political ideal. If so, I respect your decision to vote for him. I truly do. You’re part of the group that will support his candidacy regardless of who he runs against. While your support started with commendable intentions, it ultimately won’t make a dent into the outcome of our nation’s election. But if you’re a dedicated Libertarian, you’re probably used to that by now.
From research, we know that in a traditional two-party system, third party votes happen for two reasons: ideology, or to send a message of the need for reform to the two main parties. Given the circumstances, the latter of those groups are the majority of the Johnson campaign.
Many of you identify with the aforementioned group. You hopped on the ever so popular #NeverTrump or #NeverHillary bandwagon (maybe both) early on and here you’ve found yourself. You say you hate both Clinton and Trump and while refusing to support either… ever. Regardless of how condescending I sound, once again, I respect the position you took early on. Hell, I joined you!
.@realDonaldTrump's WIFE BARELY SPEAKS ENGLISH. WTF AMERICA, WTF?????? THIS IS WHY USA CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS!!!!!!! STUPID PEOPLE!!!
— J.Harrison (@The_JHarrison) February 21, 2016
— J.Harrison (@The_JHarrison) February 5, 2016
It was okay to take this stance in the beginning. I too initially shared a staunch affinity for those groups. At the time, before both parties chose a nominee, we had options, especially on the Republican side. Given the wide variety of candidates, America, as a whole, quickly picked two candidates from each side they vowed to never support. In a damning turn of fate, both of these candidates rose to the top of their parties and were presented as our only choices. At this point, you’re disgusted with both parties, while feeling alienated and abandoned by your initial, and probably life-long, party of choice.
So if you’re a Republican who wouldn’t vote for Hillary come hell or high water, yet still vowed early on not to support Trump, who do you vote for now? If you’re a Democrat who refused to vote for Hillary, you surely wouldn’t vote for Trump unless you had a gun pointed to your head. But, who do you vote for now? After your options were eliminated, you were forced to make a decision. Eat crow or abstain from voting for Hillary or Trump.
But alas, Libertarian party nominee, Gary Johnson emerges. You see Johnson as your “get out of jail free” card to the political predicament you’ve found yourself in. I’ll admit, Gary seems reasonable enough. He’s a happy middle ground for both parties who aren’t satisfied with the nominees selected. Likewise, Johnson vows to cut through the divisive, partisan politics that landed us where we are today. Sounds good right? Hell yeah. But how’s he going to get to the White House? As we established earlier Gary Johnson will not win this election. For the sake of argument (and statistical methodology), let’s just accept this.
I know you don’t want to vote for either Trump or Clinton. Frankly, I don’t either. Yet something serious must be irking you to make you support a candidate who doesn’t have a path to victory. Is it that you’d rather bank our country’s future on a candidate with a less than 1% chance of winning than admit that our political landscape has changed, and that you might’ve jumped too quick in your initial judgement? Or is it that you don’t have enough of a spine to sit down and make the god awful decision between Trump or Clinton, candidates you fervently declared you’d never support?
It’s past time to give up your own self-fulfilling prophecy. You’re neither a nobleman nor a patriot for depriving Clinton or Trump of your vote by passing it to Johnson. Frankly, if you’re in one of the 37 non-swing states, your vote isn’t going to count for much anyways. These ballots are ultimately, already cast. However, if you’re in one of the battleground states, your vote of a conscientious objector isn’t what America needs to survive this election cycle.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, you do in that ballot box will result in Johnson becoming president. As an American, you have a fiduciary duty to set aside your fear or embarrassment and pick between the only two candidates on the ticket that actually have a path to victory. Don’t be a wimp, man up, pick between the lesser of two evils, and cast your vote.