Posted by Rojas @ 3:04 pm on January 20th 2012

The inevitable torpedo

Gary Johnson is polling at between 8 and 10 percent in some states, drawing largely from Republican support. He’s virtually certain to draw off almost all Republican Paulites unless Rand is on the ticket. At that point the only scenario in which the Republican candidate wins the Presidency is if Europe tanks badly enough to take the US down with it.

This is probably the single most under-covered aspect of the Presidential election at the moment. I doubt it will stay that way.


  1. Bear in mind those numbers typically are at the highest at precisely this point, when it’s all kind of theoretical still. Once the nominees are selected and the general election heats up and the rhetoric ferments in its two-party duopolypse way, most people that theoretically are open to voting third party suddenly feel an irrational fear that doing so will lead to President Romney (or Obama) and that third party support dries up. Guys like Andrew Sullivan are way ahead of the game on that one, but his way of thinking will be most everyone’s way of thinking in not too long:

    “Sure my principles tell me that President Obama is destroying the fabric of America because of this this and this, but OMFG President Mitt Romney!!!! HERE IS WHY THAT SUCKS SO FING MUCH AND I HATE REPUBLICANS!!!! Anyway, is this this and this really all that important, in the broader context? Barack Obama 2012.”

    I suspect there’s some truth to it, but if Johnson doesn’t have more success making himself heard in a general election than he did in the primary election, I’m not convinced that he’ll make an impact.

    Comment by Brad — 1/20/2012 @ 3:40 pm

  2. The Paulites are, to me, the fly in that ointment. Barr did everything possible to alienate them last time; Johnson is playing to to them aggressively, never passing up an opportunity to say nice things about Ron Paul.

    I find it very hard to envision a Ron Paul primary voter who becomes a Romney die-hard this fall…and we’re talking about 15% of the Republican primary electorate.

    Comment by Rojas — 1/20/2012 @ 3:55 pm

  3. It wasn’t all Barr – the Paul campaign didn’t exactly encourage cross-pollination, although they weren’t overtly hostile to it. I think that might still hold true with Johnson. If you expect an endorsement and the Paul campaign doing anything but be a bit passive aggressive about channeling support to Johnson, you haven’t been paying attention. (for the record, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Paul does endorse Johnson, but again, I strongly suspect his team is going to be very lukewarm and passive aggressive about the thought of any other non-Paul center of gravity emerging).

    But, on principle, your argument makes perfect sense. Again, though, it’s been a long while since that’s actually borne out with any third party candidate. Usually, the dissenting voters of a heterodox primary opponent just stay home, or wind up holding their noses because Nazi Socialism.

    Comment by Brad — 1/20/2012 @ 5:29 pm

  4. Of course, Ron Paul can’t lend even tacit support to someone as reasonable as Gary Johnson. Much more preferable to endorse a neo-confederate, one world government fearing, Tancredo-like anti-immigrationist, semi-theocratic wack job like Chuck Baldwin. Man that still sticks in my craw.

    Comment by Jack — 1/20/2012 @ 10:41 pm

  5. That’s a little – by no means entirely – but a little unfair.

    If you’ll remember, Paul’s endorsement was bandied about for weeks by various parties, especially Barr’s camp, for no reason other than third party candidates wanted the Ron Paul vote (in other words, not because of anything Ron or the campaign did). LP folks and Barr’s folks figured they had a right to the Ron Paul endorsement. Finally, at least a month after it would have mattered, Paul held his press conference, and his endorsement was “Vote Third Party! You know, whichever one you feel like.”

    At which point – literally, within minutes – the Barr campaign went positively apeshit, and started blasting out releases about what bullshit not endorsing him was. At which point, the Paul campaign (Ron himself never got involved) started blasting back, even nastier than Barr had been, and very quickly it devolved into essentially a flamewar between the communication directors of two minor candidates, and was good for really nothing, in terms of the political discourse of America, except a dick-size comparison between Jesse Benton and a few LP hardcore LP staffers.

    Three weeks after that, Paul endorsed Baldwin, which was pretty much Jesse Benton telling the other third party candidates who had not been completely loyal to Paul (including subsuming their own campaigns to him) to go fuck themselves. As with Rick Perry, it was a spite endorsement (not that Paul doesn’t like Baldwin, because he does). Only, in this case, the stakes were really, really low.

    Comment by Brad — 1/21/2012 @ 3:56 am

  6. I tend to think that if Ron Paul specifically asks Americans to vote for Chuck Baldwin, he is liable for the reprecussions of that decision, regardless of his reasons.

    I don’t blame Jack for finding that decision disgusting. I did as well.

    Comment by Rojas — 1/21/2012 @ 3:09 pm

  7. Im in Thailand now (thats right haters, world traveler here) so I am a bit late in responding, but Rojas covered me. Brad, your response to my “RP endorses Baldwin” issue seems to be “but Barr did bad things too.” I don’t care about Barr. Screw Barr. My issue is that RP endorsed a total fucking wackjob asshat. The fact that there was high school level drama between the campaigns does not excuse or even mitigate the decision. It makes it worse, in fact, and is another of those leadership issues that is vaguely similar to what I will generously call the leadership failure surrounding the newsletters.

    Comment by Jack — 1/23/2012 @ 4:08 am

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