• Could Gary Johnson Be 2012's Ross Perot?

    Theoretically speaking, the Libertarian candidate could mount a surprise populist campaign this fall and build up enough support with his everyman message to upset conventional wisdom and become the first-ever third party candidate to win the presidency, thus overturning everything we thought we knew about American politics and changing the course of American history.

    Theoretically, that could happen. It totally could. All kinds of things could happen, theoretically speaking. That's why Libertarians choose to live in the magical land of "Theoretically Speaking." After all, that's where their policies make sense.

    In the real world, though, Gary Johnson could make an impact on history, but in a slightly different way

    Poll after poll shows lackluster enthusiasm for Obama and Romney, along with continuing voter disgust with Washington and most national institutions. That probably isn't enough to push even a single electoral vote into Johnson's camp. It could, however, put just enough ballots in Johnson’s column —  in a kind of disaffected, "throw-the-bums-out" way — to affect the outcome in a handful of states.

    Early polling has shown Johnson taking more from Romney, although pollsters say he’s peeling off votes from Obama as well. Johnson has said he expects to be on the ballot in all 50 states.

    If there's an opportunity for Johnson to make a difference anywhere, it's likely in Mountain states such as his native New Mexico, and Colorado and Nevada, where he could shave votes from the major-party candidates. In a close race that neither side thinks will be an electoral landslide, Johnson could make a real difference — especially with Ron Paul’s libertarian-leaning backers now up for grabs.

    Theoretically speaking, somebody might someday be moved to carve the faces of Ross Perot, Ralph Nader and Gary Johnson on the side of a mountain. Theoretically speaking…

    Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Gary Johnson, Libertarian, Third Party


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