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Third Parties

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Published: Wed, 26 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0400

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Powerful: GOP Congressman Scott Rigell Video Endorsement of Libertarian Gary Johnson

Sun, 23 Oct 2016 11:21:00 -0400

src="" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"> That's Scott Rigell, a Republican congressman from Virginia who broke party ranks to endorse Libertrian presidential nominee and former two-term New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson back in August. The mere fact of partisans such as Rigell splitting their votes is important, of course—it's a bold, even courageous example, and a necessary one for an era in which voter identification with the major parties is going down like the Titanic: . But Rigell's specific argument in the video is also important. In less than two minutes, he stresses that nobody has to accept the two unacceptable major-party candidates or the awful platforms they are espousing (protectionism, statism, overseas interventions, increases in the size, scope, and spending of government). There's a different way says Rigell. "We don't just have two choices. We have a third choice, a better choice....We can change things. We can change the system." Among the many ways "we can change the system" is by evacuating the duopoly in politics the same way that we've evacuated false binaries and harshly limited choices in all other aspects of our lives. We no longer allow, for instance, our options in automobilies to be dictated by the Big Three automakers and we're better off for it. On more important levels, we no longer our cultural choices to be forced on us by the three or four TV networks or a handful of book publishers, record labels, and film studios. When it comes to our most lifestyle choices and identities, we no longer submit to dualistic categories such as black/white, male/female, gay/straight as the only way—or even a particularly meaningful way—to structure our world. As Matt Welch and I argued in The Declaration of Independents, politics is a lagging indicator of where America is headed and always the last institution to change its ways. What we have been witnessing throughout 2016 is a damn-near perfect illustration of our thesis that the same sort of proliferation in choice and increasingly individualized options in our work, cultural, and social lives is coming to politics. Characters such as Scott Rigell are in the vanguard of that movement, if only because he dares to speak as a Republican what we all know to be true: The established parties can't even represent their own members any more. We need more, better choices in politics just as we needed them in cars and we'll get them sooner or later. And it's important to note that the push for more and better choices isn't simply limited to the historically string response to Gary Johnson this time around. The Bernie Sanders insurgency suggests that many in the Democratic Party feel cheated by that party's current iteration, as does a continuing lack of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton. That Trump won the GOP nomination is evidence of the same and so does relatively strong showing by late-to-the-race independent Evan McMullin and stronger-than-expected polling by Green Party nom Jill Stein. Something is happening here that is actually different than in the past, even though the winner of the 2016 election will be from a party founded before the U.S. Civil War. Former political consultant (he worked with both parties) and current ABC News analyst Matthew Dowd is framing a similar scenario to the one in The Dec. of Ind.: It is time we reject the messaging from the two major parties, and make choices in our own hearts that help bring the country together. If you don't feel good about either major party choice, then don't be shoved into choosing between what they describe as "the lesser of two evils." Make an independent and innovative choice that may not win this year, but over time will be successful in reuniting us as a country. We need independents to take back our country and unite us. It is only a binary choice if we listen to the duopoly. More on that here. If the 20th [...]

Will Maine Be the First State Where Voters May Rank Their Choices?

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 12:17:00 -0400

What if you really didn't have to accept that there are only two valid choices for a particular race, and your third-party vote actually mattered more than as just a protest? Maine voters may find out for themselves. On their ballot this November is Question 5, a ballot initiative that would institute ranked-choice voting for statewide positions like governor and for lawmakers on both the state and federal levels. In a ranked vote system, voters are invited not to just check off the box for their favorite candidate; they're allowed to rank each candidate in order of preference. If the winning candidate doesn't get a majority of the votes, there's an "instant runoff." The candidate with the least votes is dumped from the race and the votes are counted again. On the ballots of those who voted for the least-popular candidate, their second choice is now counted as their vote. If again the winning candidate still doesn't get a majority of the votes, the cycle continues until the top-ranked candidate doesn't get just the most votes but a majority of votes. No state here currently has such a voting system, but some cities do, and it's how Australia elects its lawmakers. Australia's complicated, preference-based voting system has resulted in several lawmakers who are members of smaller parties, including libertarian David Leyonhjelm. That is partly the intent of this system: To make it more possible for third-party candidates to break through the electoral duopoly, but only in situations where the majority of voters reject what the establishment offers. The editorial board of the Portland Press Herald endorsed Question 5 last week with the awareness that an increasing number of voters are refusing to identify as Democrats or Republicans: Our current system took shape when there were two strong parties that dominated the political process. Parties won elections by assembling coalitions and selecting candidates who had broad appeal. It was hard for fringe elements to break through. But even though Maine's political parties have been in decline for decades, they still have an outsized influence on the process. Nominees selected by the small number of committed partisans who show up to vote in June have enormous institutional advantages on Election Day in November. That puts the largest group of voters, those who are not active as either Democrats or Republicans, in a bind. They have no say in the selection of a party nominee, but they can't vote for a third-party candidate without risking a vote for a "spoiler" who fragments opposition and gives an extreme candidate a path to victory. What if, for example, you could vote for Gary Johnson as your first choice, but thought that Hillary Clinton would be much less dangerous as president than Donald Trump (or vice-versa)? You could make Johnson your first choice and Clinton your second. Thus, you'd be shutting down any arguments (or even your own fears) that a vote for a third-party candidate was ultimately helping Trump (or Clinton) win. Heck, given the unpopularity of Clinton and Trump and the way polls are going, it is likely that the winner in November will get a plurality of the votes, not a majority. A ranked system significantly favors third-party candidates in situations where voters are really unhappy with what the establishment has to offer. It's easy to imagine Johnson becoming the second choice for a good chunk of voters, and then imagine what could happen next if neither Clinton nor Trump gets 51 percent of the majority vote. It shouldn't come as a surprise then that Johnson supporter and former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic is a big endorser of this kind of voting system. And he puts his activism where his mouth is: He's the chairman of the Board of FairVote, a nonprofit group pushing for more proportional voting systems such as Maine's proposed ranked-choice method. The ranked-choice system comes with its own flaws. One study pointed out that even in a ranked-choice election, the winner may not actually have gotten the majority vote in the [...]

The Other Way an Alternative Candidate Could Pick Up an Electoral Vote

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 13:30:00 -0400

Hillary Clinton is almost certain to carry Washington state next month. But she won't necessarily collect all of its electoral votes. Robert Satiacum Jr., one of the Democratic Party's slate of 12 electors in Washington, has been mulling in public about whether he can bring himself to vote for his party's nominee. He may yet fall in line, and he may simply give up his seat in the Electoral College. But there's a chance he'll cast his ballot for Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, or some other person not named "Clinton" or "Trump." This is the other way a minor-party candidate can eat into the major-party nominees' Electoral College totals: In 21 states, it is legal for a so-called "faithless elector" to ignore the popular vote and cast a ballot for someone else. So while we're pondering the possibility that Evan McMullin might carry Utah or Gary Johnson might pull off an upset in New Mexico, let's take a moment to consider this other scenario. After all, a third-party candidate hasn't won a state outright since 1968, when George Wallace carried five states in the South. But in six of the 12 elections going back to then, faithless electors have voted for alternative candidates—or, sometimes, for people who weren't actually running for president at all: • In 1968, Wallace didn't just win those five states; he picked up a vote from a Republican elector from North Carolina. • In 1972, a Republican elector from Virginia voted for John Hospers of the Libertarian Party, making this both the LP's weakest year (they got only 3,674 votes on Election Day) and its strongest (it's the only time the party has broken into the Electoral College). That elector was Roger MacBride, who went on to become the Libertarian presidential nominee in 1976. • In 1976, a Republican elector from Washington voted for Ronald Reagan, who had narrowly lost the GOP nomination that year to Gerald Ford. • In 1988, a Democratic elector from West Virginia thought that her party's vice presidential nominee, Lloyd Bentsen, was a stronger candidate than Michael Dukakis. So she cast her presidential vote for Bensten and demoted Dukakis to VP. • In 2000, a Democratic elector from the District of Columbia refused to cast a ballot at all, to protest the fact that D.C. doesn't have a vote in Congress. Since nobody got her vote, I consider this a moral victory for Wavy Gravy. • In 2004, a Democratic elector from Minnesota flipped the ticket and voted for vice presidential nominee John Edwards—or technically, since spelling was not this person's strong suit, for "John Ewards." (Also that year, New York's entire slate of electors accidentally voted for some guy called "John L. Kerry" rather than Democratic nominee John F. Kerry. But this was just a typo, and the votes were ultimately assigned to the correct Kerry, so unfortunately it doesn't count.) With Clinton opening her lead over Trump in the polls, it's very unlikely that a faithless elector will actually keep a candidate from accumulating the 270 ballots needed to win the White House. But that same lead may make it more likely for such electors to defect in the first place. Regular voters are probably more likely to back third-party or independent candidates when the election looks like it's going to be a blowout: If the lesser evil is either sure to win or sure to lose, you might as well give your support to a protest candidate instead. When the Electoral College votes, more than a month after Election Day, that effect may be magnified: These people already know who won the popular vote and whether the margin is close. A Clinton-hating Democrat like Satiacum—or a NeverTrump Republican, which isn't exactly a scarce species these days—would feel even less constrained from voting his or her conscience. So even if the alternative candidates don't manage to carry any states this year, we may see a third name, or even a fourth name, in this year's Electoral College results. Maybe Johnson. Maybe McMullin. Maybe Stein. Maybe someone else. Darrell Castle![...]

If Johnson Gets 5 Percent of the Vote, Would the Libertarian Party Take FEC Money?

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 14:20:00 -0400

If current polling numbers hold, the Libertarian Party could surpass an important vote share threshold come November. If Gary Johnson and Bill Weld receive at least five percent of the popular vote, they'll be officially classified as a "minor party" by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). If that happens, the Libertarian Party's candidate in 2020 would qualify for public matching funds based on how much of the vote they receive. At RealClear politics, Bill Scher takes note of the possibilities: If Johnson snags 5 percent of the national popular vote, the Federal Election Commission will classify the Libertarians as an official "minor party," granting the 2020 nominee a lump sum of cash for the fall campaign, courtesy of the American taxpayer. (And don't you think for a second that the vehemently anti-big-government Libertarians won't cash that big government check in a heartbeat.) The exact amount of federal funds depends on the size of his vote, but Green Party officials – who have been chasing 5 percent for years – estimate that meeting the threshold would yield about $10 million. That may seem like chump change compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars major party presidential nominees routinely raise. But Johnson has gotten this far after raising only $8 million through August. The prospect of knowing the Libertarian Party's nominee is guaranteed $10 million will allow him or her to hit the campaign trail running, improving the odds of getting into the debates, winning an even larger share of vote and fortifying the party's place in the American political landscape. Isn't it a little bit odd for Scher to assert what the Libertarian Party would do in a snarky parenthetical aside rather than simply contacting them to ask? Scher's hardly an objective observer of the election from his home at That's certainly no sin (read about my own lack of objectivity here), but it took me no time at all to contact the Libertarian Party and talk to party chair Nicholas Sarwark. The reality is, according to Sarwark, members of the Libertarian Party are not in agreement over whether to take the money, and it will have to be something hammered out if Johnson actually reaches the threshold. (Keep in mind this FEC fund Scher describes is made entirely from voluntary donations from taxpayers. The FEC notes in its guidelines "Money for public funding of presidential elections can come only from the Presidential Fund. If the Presidential Fund runs short of funds, no other general Treasury funds may be used.") "We would be delighted to have that conversation," Sarwark told Reason. "Right now we're just entirely focused on the election and having Johnson do as well as possible." In the event Johnson reaches the FEC vote threshold, Sarwark believes the most likely outcome will be that delegates to the Libertarian Party's 2018 national convention would need to hammer out a possible bylaw about whether a potential candidate should be permitted to accept the money. As a legal matter, Sarwark notes, it's the candidate who decides whether to take the money, not the party. So the bylaw would serve the purpose of attempting to bind a future candidate to the party's attitude toward whether to accept the grant. Another potential concern is that accepting the grant actually imposes a limit on fundraising by the candidate as part of matching these funds. While it might, at the moment, appear to be a boon for whoever comes after Johnson (it certainly was for Pat Buchanan following after Ross Perot with the Reform Party), if this Republican Party crack-up continues and more people see the Libertarian Party as an alternative, it actually might not be in the party's interest to tie themselves down this way. There's a reason the Democrats and the Republicans don't avail themselves of this money anymore. Neither party has accepted any grants for the general election as yet, and the only primary candidate to accept matching funds was Martin O'Malley.[...]

CNN Accused of Bias Against Third Parties By a Post-Debate Focus Group Participant

Fri, 07 Oct 2016 13:00:00 -0400

During and after Tuesday's Vice Presidential Debate, CNN hosted a 28-person focus group of self-identified "undecided voters" at the University of Richmond (Va.). One of the participants in this group—Justin Smith—later complained on his Facebook page that CNN's Pamela Brown had asked the group if they now intended to vote for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or an unnamed third party candidate. In Smith's telling, two supported Trump, five supported Clinton, and 12 indicated they would vote for a third party candidate. But, Smith tells Reason, the producers then told the focus group they were going to "reshoot" the segment, only this time they replaced "third party candidate" as an option with "undecided." Smith says this caused confusion among the panel, leading some who had just raised their hands for "third party" to now raise their hands for "undecided." An important difference between the two questions: the cameras were only airing live on CNN during the "undecided" question, whereas the "third party" question was taped. Watch the segment that aired live—with "undecided" as an option as opposed to "third party"—below: src="" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0"> Smith's Facebook post has caused a bit of a stir online, with accusations that CNN is censoring third party supporters to favor a narrative in which the only opinions worth considering are from voters who support Trump, Clinton, or have not yet decided between the two. The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald weighed in on Twitter this morning, offering his opinion that "If this account is accurate, it comes pretty close to actual fraud." Though he has a "Evan McMullin for President" poster as his Facebook profile cover page, Smith tells Reason he is an undecided voter, it's just that he hasn't decided which third party candidate he will vote for. He calls himself a constitutional conservative and insists he will absolutely not vote for Trump and Clinton. For a while, he had considered voting for Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle, but he's not on the ballot in Virginia, so Smith is now on the fence between voting for McMullin or Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Smith says CNN producers told the focus group they would be taping certain questions as segments that might be used by CNN shows the next morning—a common TV news practice. Smith added that each of the questions they had been asked as a group had been taped twice. As a former cable TV news producer myself, I can attest that shooting more "packages" than you're likely to need is standard operating procedure. It's entirely possible that there was no nefarious intent on the part of CNN behind the creation of a taped package which included third party as a voting option. But the fact is, when the cameras went live, Brown didn't give the group the option of choosing a "third party." Live TV viewers were left with the impression that the majority of the focus group was undecided between Trump, Clinton, and no one else. "I was shocked that they would purposely not put it out there that people were supporting a third party," Smith told Reason, adding, "Intentionally covering that up...I can't imagine what their narrative is." CNN did not respond to requests for comment. Is it just an odd turn of events that the "undecided" question went out on live TV while the "third party" question went to tape? It's not clear whether the latter ever aired the next morning and I haven't been able to find a clip of it on CNN's website, but sometimes producers are left with more content than they can use. It's also important to note that CNN hasn't ignored third parties this election cycle; they have aired two Libertarian town halls in recent months, after all. However, editorial choices—such as deciding which questions get aired with the most viewers watching immediately after a debate, while others may or may not get airtime at all—matter. By prioritizing [...]

Surveys Show Gary Johnson Appeal Growing Among Asian, Black, Hispanic, and White Millennials

Tue, 04 Oct 2016 14:45:00 -0400

Do third-party presidential candidates fare poorly with minority millennials this election? In recent national polls, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein have done relatively well with young voters overall. But using a series of recent surveys from GenForward, Mother Jones asserts that young black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans "are much less likely than their white peers" to support the likes of Johnson or Stein. If we frame the same data another way, however, we get a much more third-party-pleasing view: support for Johnson among young people of color has been steadily increasing since July. And their support for Stein, while static, has mostly matched that of their white counterparts, according to the GenForward surveys. GenForward, a joint project of the University of Chicago and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, is meant to track millennial political attitudes with atypical emphasis on including non-white participants. September respondents included 530 (non-Hispanic) whites, 517 Hispanics, 501 blacks, 261 Asians, and 42 folks from other racial or ethnic backgrounds, all between the ages of 18 and 30. The first month GenForward asked about Johnson and Stein specifically was July, with Johnson winning 8 percent of respondents overall and Stein 4 percent. In September, Stein remained at 4 percent but Johnson was up to 11 percent. It might have been small, but Johnson's bump was the biggest change in support seen for any of the candidates since July. In September, Hillary Clinton's share of millennial voters was up just one percentage point over July, from 35 to 36 percent, while Trump was down one point, from 19 to 18 percent. (Sixteen percent of respondents said they "probably wouldn't vote," 9 percent were still undecided, and 5 percent said they were voting for someone not named). And Johnson's appeal had increased among all racial/ethnic cohorts between the July and September surveys. Among white millennials he was up from 11 to 15 percent, among Hispanics up from 5 to 8 percent, among Asians up from 4 to 6 percent, and among blacks from 3 to 4 percent. We should avoid making much of these ethnic and racial breakdowns, however—the margins of sampling error in the GenForward surveys were quite high. In September, for instance, the sampling error was plus or minus 5.9 percentage points for blacks, 8.6 percentage points for Asians, 6.4 points for Hispanics, and 5.7 percent for whites. That means black support for Johnson could theoretically be less than 1 percent or stand at nearly 10 percent; that Johnson voters could account for less than 2 percent of Hispanic respondents or nearly 15 percent; and so on. For white millennials—who are the most likely to say they'll vote this November—the +/- 5.7 point margin of error could seriously close the gap between Johnson and Clinton or Trump, who each had the support of just 27 percent of whites in GenForward's September survey. The non-race specific data is somewhat more reliable, with the overall margin of sampling error here plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. One good sign for Johnson in this data is that the once-vast majority of young adults who didn't know who he was or had no opinion of him has become a much smaller majority. For millennials (of all races and ethnicities) surveyed, those with no view of Johnson went from 71 percent in July to 59 percent in September. His favorable rating over this period went from 18 to 25 percent, with his unfavorable rising as well, from 11 to 16 percent. Also of note to libertarians: forty-two percent of those surveyed said free trade agreements neither help nor hurt the U.S. economy, 36 percent that they're good for the economy, and 20 percent that they're bad. Of note more generally, less than half (46 percent) of all respondents said they would definitely vote, with 20 percent saying probably, 10 percent saying probab[...]

Ballot Access: Another Way Dems and the GOP Screw Third Parties

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 10:37:00 -0400

"A multi-party system is normal," says Richard Winger, publisher and editor of Ballot Access News. "You only have a two party system if there's repression. It's not natural."

With both major parties offering up two of the most unpopular presidential candidates in modern history, many voters (and the media) are paying more attention to third party options such as Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

But while independent candidates are gaining in popularity, getting them on the ballot to vote for them can be a long and costly process.

"There's so many ways in which the United States is near the bottom of democracy," says Winger, an expert in election law and ballot access. "There's been unbelievable hostility in the last few months to minor parties."

This hostility has resulted in states changing their ballot access rules—sometimes at the last minute—in an effort to exclude minor parties from the ballot.

One recent example of this was Gary Johnson's fight to remain on the ballot as a presidential candidate in Ohio after the secretary of state threatened to remove his name thanks to a frequently used rule that allows placeholder candidates when fulfilling ballot access requirements (read more about the incident here.)

"Ohio law explicitly says people who use the independent candidate petition procedure put a substitution committee on the petition," states Winger. But when it came time to remove the placeholder name and add Gary Johnson's, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted "acted like he never heard of such a thing!" Winger exclaimed.

Johnson eventually qualified for the ballot as an independent candidate after his supporters turned in the necessary 5,000 petition signatures to Husted in late August.

"They act like the secretary of state did the Libertarians a big favor by letting them use this thing which has been used all along," Winger says. "It's just so maddening."

Reason TV recently sat down with Winger to discuss which states have the worst ballot access laws, why the major parties give independent candidates such a hard time when it comes to getting on the ballot, and the consequences of a two party duopoly.

"This is one the things that anchors me being a libertarian," says Winger. "Before the government got involved in printing ballots we had total freedom."

Produced by Alexis Garcia. Camera by Alex Manning and Paul Detrick. Music by Alex Fitch.

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USA Today Reporter Blows Jill Stein’s Cover; Candidate Arrested at Debate Site

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 17:47:00 -0400

Media fact-checking of the first presidential debate started before the candidates even arrived on Monday. Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee, did not qualify for the debate (even though Monday's event undoubtedly would be improved by the inclusion of additional candidates like Stein and Gary Johnson) because she is not polling at 15 percent. Undeterred by the arbitrary rules set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, it appears that Stein intended to show up at the debate site anyway—until her cover was blown by a Eliza Collins, a reporter for USA Today. I'm pretty sure Jill Stein just boarded the media bus at the Hofstra University #Debates2016 — Eliza Collins (@elizacollins1) September 26, 2016 Stein told the newspaper in August that she was planning to crash the debate. She did the same thing four years ago, and the stunt ended with Stein handcuffed to a chair. USA Today reported that Collins' tweet "scrambled law enforcement officials" who tracked down Stein on the Hempstead, New York, campus of Hofstra University, where the debate is being held tonight. Stein's campaign says she was on her way to record an interview with MSNBC when she was "escorted off the campus." .@DrJillStein being escorted off the campus of #Hofstra: "This is what democracy looks like." #debatenight #Debates2016 — lancegould (@lancegould) September 26, 2016 The campaign is planning a protest with supporters outside the debate site tonight. "The Commission on Presidential Debates is trying to exclude myself and Gary Johnson from the debate on Monday night on the campus of Hofstra University," Stein wrote on Facebook earlier this week. "I'm going to be there anyway. The American public has a right to hear real debate about real issues affecting real people." Unfortunately for Stein, the area around Hofstra is teaming with more than 1,000 law enforcement officials and "and various checkpoints have been set up throughout the sprawling campus to avoid people without credentials from gaining access to secure areas, according to the Long Island Press. If you want to hear from candidates who aren't Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tonight, check out Reason's livestream with Johnson and his runningmate Bill Weld. Even Trump thinks they should get to debate: src="" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0">[...]

Gary Johnson Getting Nearly as Many LGBT Voters as Trump

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 12:40:00 -0400

A new poll has Hillary Clinton dominating Donald Trump with registered gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender voters. This is not terribly surprising news. But both Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are drawing some notable numbers from the LGBT community. NBC partnered with Survey Monkey to track likely voters for two weeks in September. In a head-to-head matchup between Clinton and Trump, Clinton won overwhelmingly, 72 percent to 20 percent. Those numbers are generally comparable to the split in the LGBT vote in previous elections. But the poll also evaluated a four-way matchup. There, both Clinton's and Trump's numbers dropped. Clinton would beat Trump for the LGBT vote, 63 percent to 15 percent. Johnson would get 13 percent of the LGBT vote and Stein would get 8 percent. So the third-party candidates are pulling 9 percentage points worth of LGBT votes from Clinton and 5 percentage points from Trump. And given that the head-to-head matchup shows an 8 percent either undecided or declining to say, it's safe to say that there's a good number of LGBT voters unhappy with their major party choices. By and large, though, the poll also shows that LGBT voters view Clinton much more positively than the general public. Among those polled, 59 percent view Clinton positively. Her popularity numbers when comparing the LGBT community to the general community are essentially reversed. Trump's favorability rating is even worse among LGBT voters than it is among the general public. Only 17 percent of LGBT voters view Trump favorably. Trump's unpopularity with the LGBT community should be seen as rather striking, given that he's less openly hostile on gay issues than previous Republican candidates. But policy-wise, he's extremely unpredictable. He has taken both sides on the debate over whether North Carolina can ban transgender people from using the school or government bathrooms and other facilities of their choice. He has, as the election gone on, essentially taken every Republican position, including opposition to the legal recognition of gay marriage. Clinton, meanwhile has promised the LGBT community anything any activist group has asked for, a host of new federal laws and regulations to protect them, and just about anything at all to get the gay vote. But clearly a good chunk of LGBT voters are thinking beyond gay issues, which is not unusual. What is unusual is that these third-party candidates are siphoning off such large numbers. According to the poll, 70 percent of the LGBT voters who responded identify as Democrats or lean Democrat. That means Clinton is losing seven percentage points from LGBT voters within her party when Johnson and Stein are offered. The LGBT voting community is not large. They accounted for seven percent of this total voting sample. But given how close the polls are now, that's enough to swing an election outcome.[...]

Even Donald Trump Wants Gary Johnson in the Debates

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 10:00:00 -0400

So when it comes to the first presidential debate, only Hillary Clinton and Donald J Trump, the two most-hated candidates in recorded history, will be allowed to participate. Here are four good reasons why Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president who is a former two-term governor of New Mexico, should be allowed to participate. And here's a bone for supporters of the Green Party's candidate, Jill Stein: At least some apply to her as well. 1. 15 percent makes no sense. The Commission on Public Debates, which was created by the Republican and Democratic Parties in 1987, says participants must average 15 percent in five polls they choose. But why 15 percent? If you're going to insist on a poll-driven number, 5 percent makes far more sense. That's the number you need to hit to receive federal matching funds and it's also the level that most states insist on for a party to receive "major-party status" and thus not have to jump through a bunch of ballot-access hoops every election. FWIW, according to RealClearPolitics' latest roundup of national polls, Johnson was at 8.6 percent just after the commission turned him down, which was higher than what independent candidate Ross Perot was at in 1992 when he was invited to the debate. 2. He's on the ballot in all 50 states. Johnson is on the ballot in all 50 states, so he can theoretically win the election but more realistically, he will totally influence the outcome. In fact, a recent state-by-state poll had the guy in double digits in 42 states and at 15 percent or better in 15 of those. What the hell is going on when a figure who will be on every American's ballot isn't given a shot to make his case on the same stage as the Republican and Democrat? 3. Americans want more choices at the ballot box. According to Gallup, 60 percent of us say the Democrats and Republicans do such a poor job that a third major party is needed" to represent our views at the ballot box. Just 38 percent say the Dems and the Reps are getting the job done. And get this: A Suffolk University/USA Today poll found that 76 percent of likely voters believe "a third-party candidate who is certified on a majority of state ballots should be included." 4. Donald Trump wants third parties included (or at least he did in 2000). Here's a charming bit of video from 2000, when the debate commission announced its 15 percent rule for the first time. Donald Trump himself argued forcefully that the Reform Party candidate, Pat Buchanan, and the Green Party candidate, Ralph Nader, and others should participate in the presidential debates and the only reason they were being excluded was that Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore were scared of competition. Minnesota's then-Gov. Jesse Ventura introduces Trump by calling the exclusion of third parties "despicable" and noting that if he hadn't been allowed to debate Democrat Humbert Humphrey III and Republican Norm Coleman, he never would have become governor. Produced by Todd Krainin. Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie. Scroll down for downloadable versions and subscribe to ReasonTV's YouTube Channel to receive notification when new material goes live.[...]

Dear Democrats: No One Owes You Their Vote

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 17:00:00 -0400

The Hillary Clinton campaign thought for sure it could count on a few key demographics: racial minorities, gay voters, young women, and to some extent young people broadly. Now that many of these groups—but especially the kids—have proven less gung-ho about her than expected, Clinton is going full-force Millennial Whisperer, throwing out free-college proposals and Pepe the Frog references with abandon as her minions in media and politics hammer home one point: a vote for a third-party presidential candidate this November is a vote for Donald Trump. The new rhetoric comes in response to several signs that millennials won't simply go good-German in a post-Bernie world. In the latest Quinnipiac national poll, just 31 percent of 18- to 34-year-old voters favored Clinton, with 29 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson and 15 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Another recent poll, this one from New York Times/CBS News, found 26 percent of 18- to 29-year-old respondents saying they would vote for Johnson and 10 percent professing support for Stein. "A month ago Democrats were amused to see Johnson leading Trump along millennials," noted Dave Weigel at The Washington Post Monday. "Now, Johnson's support is being tackled like a crisis." The anti-third-party message has been coming from Clinton herself—on Monday, she gave a speech at Temple University "laying out the stakes of November's election for millennial voters"—and from new YouTube and TV commercials put out by Clinton SuperPAC Priorities USA. It's coming from Clinton surrogates like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, speaking on Facebook and at swing-state college campuses; and from pro-establishment voices in the media, such as The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and Mother Jones executive editor Clara Jeffery. On Thursday, Jeffery tweeted the results of a new poll showing high support for third-party candidates among young voters with the comment: "I have never hated millennials more." Jeffery's comment typifies a certain sort of left-leaning boomer leap-of-logic wherein the large number of Trump supporters within their own ranks aren't the issue and its the under-35 crowd's rejection of both Trump and Clinton that is truly unconscionable. Meanwhile, Krugman weighed in today on whether any sane person could vote for Gary Johnson, concluding sure—if they think it makes no difference whether Trump or Clinton gets elected and they agree with every policy position Johnson takes. The last bit is an especially strange assertion to make while simultaneously arguing for those who don't love Clinton to support her because she's better than the alternative. In Krugman's column logic, voting for Clinton while opposing much of what she stands for is righteous and normal while voting for Johnson because you support much of what he stands for is absurd unless you also agree with him 100 percent on environmental regulation, Medicare, school choice, and everything else. Riffing on Krugman, let's ask a similar question: Does it make sense for millennials or racial minorities to vote for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for president, when they really want to vote for a third-party candidate? Sure, as long as you believe a few things. First, you have to accept a system in which two increasingly similar and incoherent political parties get to dominate American politics in perpetuity and in which the quality (or lack thereof) of the candidates they put forth makes zero difference. Second, you have to believe that Donald Trump presents an unprecedented threat to American society and this election holds unique historical significance that subsequent elections will not match. And third, you have to believe that certain classes of people can and should reliably be expected to vote ag[...]

‘Trump Bad’ Is Not a Good Enough Argument to Discourage Third-Party Votes, Democrats

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 13:10:00 -0400

According to The New York Times, the Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign are keenly aware that they are losing votes to third-party candidates, especially the votes of the under-35 crowd. Well, good for them for noticing! So … how are they approaching this problem? Let's see: "We'll be launching a multimillion-dollar digital campaign that talks about what's at stake and how a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Donald Trump, who is against everything these voters stand for," said Justin Barasky, a strategist for Priorities USA. Mrs. Clinton may also get an assist from one Democrat who has been largely quiet about the race, but can testify to the importance of resisting the third-party temptation: former Vice President Al Gore. Her staff has had conversations with aides to Mr. Gore about bringing him onto the campaign trail to emphasize the importance of supporting Mrs. Clinton if they want to make progress on combating climate change. Oh … well, this is going to fail miserably. There are indeed some elements of this election that are beginning to look an awful lot like the George W. Bush/Gore match-up that saw third-party candidates pulling off a number of votes in a close race. At least it feels that way at the moment due to the narrowing of the poll numbers separating Clinton and Trump. The strategy detailed above suggests that after all this time, the Democrats have still learned not a single thing about the behavior of third-party voters. And it suggests that, just as with Gore's loss, should Clinton fail come November, there are going to be a number of people who will blame those who refused to comply with the demand that they fall in line with the major parties. The people who don't vote for Clinton will be blamed for Clinton's loss, which, while I suppose that's logically true, is ultimately a way for party leadership from having to face the fact that they've lined up behind a deeply unpopular, unlikeable candidate with a reputation for secrecy, dishonesty, and corruption, and then wondered why their campaign calling Trump secretive, dishonest, and corrupt didn't work. Back in 2013, when some Republicans were upset that a Libertarian Party candidate was going to impact the outcome of the Virginia governor's race, I wrote a short piece about the mentality of third-party voters. This was an effort to try to get the establishment-oriented Republicans and Democrats to avoid the trap that the Clinton campaign appears to be falling into: treating third-party voters as though they're wayward partisans who are acting out and need to be brought into line. During the Republican Primary, I brought those points back to help explain the behavior of Trump's supporters, who were voting in a manner very reminiscent to those who turn to third parties. They were not interested in supporting the Republican Party's favortie candidates and did not care if their decision ultimately helped Hillary Clinton come November. They were not party loyalists. Whether their grievances were supported by reality or not, they felt betrayed by the Republican establishment. Looking over this list of third-party voter analysis, it's easy to make a case that it all still applies to this national election. Anybody trying to get third-party voters to pull the lever for Clinton or Trump (but especially Clinton), needs to absorb this mindset: We don't like your candidate. I remain mystified every single time I have to bring this up. Clinton is probably the most disliked candidate that the Democratic Party has put forward in contemporary times. Trump, of course, is also extremely disliked. The result here has been an argument over which candidate is worse and disdain and condescension directed toward those who suggest that they're equally[...]

Gary Johnson Has More Daily Newspaper Endorsements than Donald Trump

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 12:00:00 -0400

Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson has racked up his second daily newspaper endorsement, two more than Donald Trump has received so far. The editorial board the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina (a Berkshire Hathaway-owned newspaper with a daily circulation of 67,000), declared its support for Johnson over the weekend. The endorsement notes: For months, we here at the Journal editorial board wrestled with this endorsement. For most of that time, we looked at Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump. But as the weekly revelations ripped away any hopes we held for finding the "better angels of their nature," confirming our belief that neither is fit to be president of our still-great land of Lincoln, we began to look harder at Johnson. We refused to let the powerful party behind either Clinton or Trump push us into a bad choice simply because the parties could do no better. We join many Americans in being sick of the status quo in American politics, particularly presidential politics, that has far drifted from the bedrock ideals of our fabulous Founders. On this day, by endorsing Gary Johnson, we issue a challenge to change that status quo. The timing is accidentally interesting given the weekend scandal with Clinton's bout of walking pneumonia. It was yet another situation where the candidate and her inner circle made a situation worse by being so secretive about it. Yes, there was going to be criticism of Clinton's health and whether she is in good enough shape to be president. But by trying to hide the problem and failing, not only has the health debate grown louder, it has also folded in criticism of the Clinton's circle's constant secrecy. If it wasn't such a big deal (and it probably wasn't), why was she keeping it a secret? She was keeping it a secret because being honest about it would inspire additional criticism of her by her opponents and the media. That's a terrible reason for a candidate for president keeping things secret! All of that and the editorial board's justifications for the endorsement matter because in 2012 the newspaper endorsed President Barack Obama's re-election. Clinton's campaign platform is a promise to carry on everything Obama has done or pushed for. The Journal turning away from Clinton says as much about perceptions of her credibility as a candidate as the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia turning away from Donald Trump to endorse Johnson after decades of exclusively nominating the Republican nominee. It's still very early in the nomination season. There's only been seven daily newspaper nominations so far, five for Clinton and two for Johnson. There are no daily endorsements for Trump yet, but I would imagine that his extremely combative—threatening, even—posture with the press plays a larger role than any of his stated positions. The Journal notes that one of the reasons they're nominating Johnson so early is that they support the push to have Johnson included in the debates. Matt Welch has been keeping track of the polling results that would led to Johnson's inclusion in the debates. Right now, it's not looking so well. While I'm very doubtful that newspaper endorsements themselves are going to lead to much, it's nevertheless important to note when media outlets that have been typical endorsers of whatever the establishment parties hand them start turning away. But it's not unheard of and it's too soon to say whether this year represents an important new trend. Editor & Publisher keeps track of newspaper endorsement trends. In that pivotal 2000 presidential election, when Ralph Nader was on the ballot and getting a lot of attention, 21 newspapers endorsed third-party candidates rather than Al Gore or[...]

Where Gary Johnson and Jill Stein Are Strongest

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 11:00:00 -0400

At last we have a national presidential poll that includes a state-by-state breakdown of support for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green nominee Jill Stein. It was published by The Washington Post this morning, and it offers a useful glimpse at where the two minor-party candidates are strongest. Needless to say, this is just one poll. It has its oddities—it shows Texas as a toss-up between Trump and Clinton—and it obviously isn't as strong a guide as an average of several surveys. It also leaves out D.C., due to a small sample size in the district. But it's a much bigger banquet of data than what we had before. What does it show? Gary Johnson's strongest state, unsurprisingly, is New Mexico, where he served as governor from 1995 to 2003. At 25 percent, he is within striking distance of Donald Trump, who is presently polling at 29. (Hillary Clinton still enjoys a comfortable lead in the state, with 37 percent of voters supporting her.) Johnson's second strongest state, also unsurprisingly, is Utah, where the Post poll shows him getting 23 percent. Utah has the least libertarian reputation of the Mountain West states, but Trump is unpopular with its heavily Mormon population, so the situation there is kind of weird this year. (Trump is still likely to carry the state, but not by the enormous margins recently enjoyed by GOP nominees.) Here again, Johnson is within striking distance of second place: Clinton currently has 27 percent. Note, though, that the Post survey leaves out independent candidate Evan McMullin, a Mormon conservative whose campaign is going nowhere nationally but may eat into Johnson's support in Utah. And just to amp up the uncertainty, Utah is also the one state in the Post poll where the number of undecided voters is in the double digits. (It's at 11 percent.) Johnson's third-best states are Alaska (which has a history of awarding alternative candidates strong showings), Idaho, and South Dakota, all of which give him 19 percent. Other places where Johnson gets 15 percent or more include Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island (!), Washington, and Wyoming. He's in double digits in 41 42 of the 50 states; his weakest support is in Mississippi, where he's getting just 4 percent. In an ordinary election, 4 percent would be an unusually high total for the Libertarian even in a more ideologically sympatico state. But this is, as you may have gathered, not an ordinary election. Stein is behind Johnson in virtually every state. (Hawaii is a toss-up.) But she's still polling pretty well for a minor-party candidate. The one state giving her double digits is Vermont, where her total stands at 10 percent. Second place is nearby Maine, where she's receiving 8 percent; she's getting 7 percent in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho (!), Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington. It is traditional when reporting such results to note that minor parties tend to poll better earlier in the campaign than on Election Day: Many dissatisfied voters will flirt with alternative candidates before deciding in the end to hold their noses and vote for whichever major-party nominee frightens them the least. And that may well happen this time as well, though usually the effect would have started to kick in by now. But in a way that makes these numbers all the more valuable. Support for third-party and independent candidates can serve as a map-by-proxy of where our binary political system is doing the poorest job of representing the full spectrum of political opinion, information that is not just interesting in itself but is particularly important at a time when we may be going through a party realignment. If there's a substantial nu[...]

Why Not Vote Third Party? We Asked California Voters.

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 12:46:00 -0400

In an election year in which the two mainstream candidates are disliked at never-before-seen levels, might there be an opportunity for third party candidates?

Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party are seeing more interest in their parties' nominees than ever before, and Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson is polling close to double-digits, higher than any other third party candidate since Ross Perot in 1992.

We hit the streets of Los Angeles and the campus of UCLA to ask voters whether they'd consider voting third party this year and to administer the test, an online quiz that shows you which candidate is your ideological match based on your answers to a series of questions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many people's matches weren't consistent with the candidate for whom they planned to vote.

In this solidly blue state, most voters we talked to plan to cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton, with varying levels of enthusiasm. But while a few committed Clinton partisans seemed unlikely to budge, we found that many folks identified as independents, a trend consistent with data that points to fewer and fewer Americans affiliating with the major parties.

And these self-described independents were more willing to at least hear out the third party candidates. In fact, a recent Quinnipiac poll found that 62 percent of Americans want Gary Johnson on the debate stage, despite the fact that the Commission on Presidential Debates sets the polling cutoff at 15 percent.

So what would it take for these independent-minded voters to pull the lever for someone other than Clinton or Trump? Watch the video above to find out.

Approximately 6 minutes.

Produced by Zach Weissmueller and Justin Monticello. Hosted by Monticello. Shot by Weissmueller. Additional graphics by Josh Swain. Music by Audionautix.

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