The third option

Gary-Johnsonx-large-1Four years ago this column made clear its preference for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama, but this column did not endorse Romney. Voters in New York do not choose the president. If New York is close then the election as a whole is not, and vice versa. Voters in New York are therefore freed from the unpleasant task of voting strategically. We do not have to settle for the lesser of two evils and can choose the best candidate. That’s why this column endorsed Gary Johnson, a very successful entrepreneur, two-term governor of New Mexico, and Libertarian Party candidate for president.

Johnson is running again, though he has not yet secured the Libertarian Party’s nomination. Many leading Republicans have not endorsed Donald Trump: the last two Republican presidents have not; Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan has not. Some have outspokenly declared that they will never do so. So will the Libertarian Party provide a vehicle which will let the substantial NeverTrump group campaign in the presidential election while declining to endorse Trump?

Other options being considered are that a credible candidate – perhaps Romney – will run as an independent or groups will campaign to get voters to write in a candidate’s name. Laws vary state by state as to the possibility of writing in candidates, though current US Senator, Lisa Murkowski won election as a write in candidate. The deadline for filing as an independent also varies state by state.

The reasons for supporting a third party candidate are manifold. It is not impossible for such a candidate to win, though barring legal calamities for one or both of the major party nominees, it is unlikely. By winning a sufficient number of states, an independent could throw the election to the House. It wouldn’t even have to be the same independent in each state: Jeb Bush in Florida, for example, Ted Cruz in Texas and John Kasich in Ohio. But the House could only choose between the top three candidates. This would presumably be Trump, Clinton and whichever of the other candidates came top (Cruz, in my example above, because Texas is the largest of those states). 

Another reason for supporting a third party candidate would be to ensure that Clinton wins. This is, in any case, the likely outcome of a Trump-Clinton battle, but if an independent candidate was clearly a Republican, such as Romney, he would probably undercut Trump more than Clinton. A Clinton win is, arguably, better for Republicans than a Trump win. It gives the party a chance to oppose her again with a real conservative or Republican candidate in four years, rather than have the party destroyed by the irrational and unpredictable leadership of Trump.

A third party option also gives Republicans a better chance of holding the House and Senate. If Republicans who cannot stand Donald Trump stay at home then Clinton will not only win the White House but Democrats will also run away with the congressional and state elections on the same day. If Republican leaning voters have two presidential options they will potentially turn out in greater numbers, and thus perform more strongly in the down ballot elections. 

The Libertarian Party will probably be on the ballot in all 50 states. For some Republicans this will offer the best chance of voting for a real conservative this year. 

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Quentin Langley is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Bedfordshire Business School as well as a freelance columnist published in the UK and all parts of the US. He blogs on social media and crisis communications at brandjacknews.com

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