The Libertarian Party ticket can absolutely win this election. The math is surprisingly easy.
The one thing that just about everyone agrees upon is that this election cycle is like no other.
The two major candidates for president doubled-down on the philosophies that have guided them throughout their professional lives. That is, Republican Donald Trump again reminded everyone that he is the captain of his own ship — the USS Insult. Meanwhile, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton again shamelessly looked everyone in the eye while repeating demonstrable lies.
Even before this display of chutzpah by both candidates, Americans were inclined to rally around neither. According to a Wall Street Journal poll, the percentage of voters that dislike Clinton is an astonishing 54 percent. Not to be outdone, Trump is disliked by 63 percent of adult voters. The percentage that dislikes both is 25 percent. The disdain for these two candidates is staggering. It explains their identical rallying cry that, “I’m the only alternative to the other.”
But are they the only alternative?
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson was an extremely effective two-term governor. His running mate, Gov. William Weld, was a two-term governor from Massachusetts. They were both Republicans that were elected multiple times in blue states. Effectiveness and electability should be important ingredients to any revolutionary recipe that also values a peaceful transition of power.
Speaking of revolution, the demonstrable forces behind both the Trump movement (not the person) and the Bernie Sanders movement is something to embrace. Setting aside insults and socialism – the revolutionary cry from both camps wasn’t rooted in person or policy, but instead found its force in “the People.” Both movements railed against the Establishment and neither movement will be silenced no matter the outcome in November.
The revolution is not over. The mainstream media turned its back to the Sanders movement now that he has withdrawn from the Democrat party and returned to Vermont. But, what of his supporters? They cannot be comforted by Clinton at the top of their ticket. They cannot be thrilled with the most Hawkish candidate in the race leading their charge. They cannot appreciate being lied to anymore than anyone else. Most of all, they cannot possibly tolerate having the single most emblematic figure of crony-capitalism as their nominee. The Clintons are multimillionaires100 times over, due to their access and inside the beltway influence.
Trump has many faults and flaws. The giddy mainstream media covers this topic on a daily basis, so there is no sense in repeating it here. To be fair, the media is right about one thing — Trump is going to lose. It is only a matter of by how much and how bad the damage will be to the GOP; however, nobody should confuse this with support for Clinton.
The rallying cry of Trump’s powerful revolutionary force remains the confluence of his aggressive stance on immigration (conservative roots) and his views on unfair trade deals (Democrat/labor roots). Make no mistake, for all his faults Trump will syphon a tremendous amount of the Democratic and labor votes from Clinton. Not enough to win 270 electoral votes, but more than any Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan.
So how does Johnson win?
To be elected president a candidate must obtain 270 electoral votes. Johnson’s path to victory requires the following obtainable objectives: 1. Break 15 percent in the polls in order to get on the debate stage with its corresponding national spotlight; 2. Win enough electoral votes to deny either Trump or Clinton 270; and 3. Help preserve Republican control over the House of Representatives.
First, Johnson has to break the 15-percent polling barrier and get on the debate stage. This will give him the platform he needs to gain national traction and coverage by the mainstream media.
Pay attention to the Johnson’s relationship with Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire over the coming weeks. Collins has already announced she will not vote for Trump and Ayotte is obviously being dragged down in her re-election bid by the Trump nomination. If these two major figures were to back the two former GOP governors it would catapult them onto the national stage. They may accomplish getting to 15 percent in the polls without the support of major GOP defections, but the New England nor’easter is shaping up to be the perfect storm.
Second, President Barack Obama won 332 electoral votes in the last cycle and most agree that only a minority of states are ever really in play. Thus, Johnson and Trump combined need to turn 63 or more electoral votes.
The knee jerk reaction to a serious Johnson bid is that he would split the Republican vote and hand the election to the Clintons, but recall — this election is like no other. The Johnson/Weld ticket can easily win the following blue states: New Mexico (5 electoral votes); Colorado (9); and Nevada (6). For his part, Trump would need to win or remain competitive in the red states that Romney won. To be fair, Johnson or Trump would likely need to win in Florida’s 29 (Obama won by 3 percent). Thereafter, the possible combinations are both limitless and realistic. Trump will steal a lot of traditional Democrat votes in the heavy labor union states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
At the same time, Johnson will be competitive and can win in many other blue states besides New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and New Hampshire. Indeed, the highest percentage of independent voters in America occurs in the bluest of states including Weld’s former home state of Massachusetts (12 electoral votes), where a remarkable 53 percent of voters identify as independent. Additional blue states in play in a three-way race include New Jersey’s 14 electoral votes (48 percent independent), Connecticut’s 7 electoral votes, (40 percent independent), New Hampshire’s 4 votes (38 percent independent); and Rhode Island’s 4 votes (49 percent independent).
Third, a strong showing by Johnson will only help the GOP preserve the House. Libertarians have always been a welcome wing within the Republican Party. Few down-ticket candidates would suffer if they aligned themselves with two former Republican governors. It is easy to imagine Johnson striking a better deal with House Speaker Paul Ryan as compared to Trump. Won’t that deal be something to watch?
The Johnson/Weld message can be boiled down to: 1. Not selfishly spending our children’s money for ourselves (fiscal responsibility); 2. Peace through strength (military restraint); and 3. Leaving most everything else to the states — where Vermont and Connecticut can be as liberal as they wish; Texas and Georgia as conservative as they want; Colorado as high as it wants, and California as nutty as it wants. Add “Freedom” to the Johnson/Weld revolutionary recipe.
In 2016, more voters identify as independent (39 percent) than Democrat (32 percent) or Republican (23 percent). This election cycle is like no other. There are revolutionary forces within both the GOP and the Democratic parties. If Johnson and Weld can get to 15 percent and get on the debate stage — they can coalesce their own revolution. A common sense revolution for America. May God save us from ourselves!
Paul McConnell is an attorney from West Hartford.
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