This may be surprising to you, but only once in its entire history has the Libertarian candidate for President gotten over 1% of the Presidential vote – when Ed Clark and David Koch got 1.06% of the vote in 1980. Usually, in fact, the Libertarian Party candidate gets less than one half of one percent – only Clark in 1980 and Gary Johnson in 2012 have ever gotten more than .50% in a Presidential election.
The Libertarians showed this year at their nominating convention over Memorial Day weekend that they are a long, long way from becoming anything approaching a mainstream party. Both their candidates and party activists were a huge turn off for regular people who tend to think that nah, a five year old should NOT be able to buy heroin.
Two new polls suggest, however, that massive Republican voter dissatisfaction may lead the Libertarians to unheard of electoral heights. First, a Mason-Dixon poll of Florida voters indicates that Gary Johnson is poised to take 7% of the Florida vote, almost all of which comes from the ranks of disaffected former Republican voters. Second, a national Rasmussen poll shows that Johnson is likewise poised to reach 8% nationally, which would lead the Libertarians to the promised land of Federal matching funds (which would of course lead to the hilarious question of whether the Libertarians would accept those funds).
Sure, it’s early in the election season and there’s a reason to take these polls with a grain of salt. However, there really is reason to believe that Johnson and Weld can make some noise this year. The media has figured out that there are a whole bunch of Republicans who are desperate for a third party option and right now the Libertarian Party is probably the most attractive. We all know they basically rig the debate criteria to include whoever they want, so if they decide to treat Johnson as a legit candidate, complete with coverage and debate appearances, then topping 5% in this election is definitely within reach. And if the Libertarians are responsible for the difference between Trump and Clinton, then they will have truly arrived indeed.