Monday at Kunstler's blog, I linked to CNN's Gary Johnson: GOP Trump Alternative?
Smerconish talks to Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson, who will probably be on all 50 state ballots and is polling at 11% but is usually left off of polls.It was in response to another reader touting Jill Stein. I agreed with him, but thought that Johnson would make a bigger splash. I concluded my comment by wrting "I can already tell this will be a good year for minor parties."
I'm not alone in thinking this. Within the past few months, several articles have expressed the same hope. March saw the Washington Post opine that Americans should make room for third-party candidates. That article touted Bloomberg, who later declined to run. He figured that Clinton would win the Democratic nomination and he would have acted as a spoiler. He didn't want that. On the other hand, if he thought Sanders was going to win the nomination, he'd probably have run.
The pace picked up in April with three articles, beginning with The Huffington Post declaring Why 2016 Could Be A Record Year For Third-Party Candidates, And What Pollsters Can Do About It. The answer is include Gary Johnson and Jill Stein in those states where they are on the ballot. The same month NBC News wondered Third Time's the Charm?: Minor Parties Hope for 2016 Wins. Also in April, The Atlantic wrote There's Still Time for a Serious Third-Party Presidential Run. Yes, if it's the Libertarians or Greens, who will have ballot access in a majority of states; the Libertarians might have ballot access in all of them. No, if it's William Kristol's quixotic crusade to draft someone like Romney as an Establishment alternative to Trump; the deadline to get a true independent on the ballot in Texas has already passed. Besides, any idea Kristol favors is likely to be a bad one.
The speculation continued this month, as FiveThirtyEight asked Could An Independent Candidate Succeed In 2016? Of all the answers to the question, I agreed most with Harry Enten, who said "this year pretty much meets all the criteria for at least a moderately successful third-party candidacy." For me, that means that the Libertarians and possibly the Greens could reach the threshold of five percent of the popular vote to qualify for public financing in 2020. The Constitution Party does not have ballot access in enough states to meet that criterion. It's very unlikely that even one of the minor parties will qualify for the debates with the major party candidates. As Gary Johnson pointed out, that requires fifteen percent in several polls before the debates. While minor parties have earned Electoral College votes before, that happened when they had concentrated regional strength, such as the Dixiecrats and the American Independent Party, and could win pluralities in three-party contests. Neither the Libertarians nor the Greens meet that criterion; their support is more diffuse. Consequently, none of the minor parties will win the presidency, but they'll certainly overperform compared to any election since 2000 and possibly even 1996, but not 1992. None of these candidates is Ross Perot. Even he didn't win any Electoral College votes.
Finally, USA Today reported Presidential transition could include third-party candidates under new law. Don't make too much of it. That just reflects a change in the language of the law extending transition services to any qualified candidate, not just the Democratic and Republican ones. Still, it is a sign of the times.