Why Does Gary Johnson Want 5%?

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Following the first debate, Gary Johnson was excited at the possibility that he may make it to the oval office without having to get up on the stage with Clinton and Trump. Although Johnson may have finally accepted that he will not actually become president, he still wants your vote.  For him, this race is about the little victories: if he achieves 5% of the popular vote, the Libertarian Party will receive federal funding during the next election.

Interestingly enough, this is not the first time that Johnson has reached for that 5% mark. During the 2012 presidential election, one of his campaign’s soundbites was “5 percent of the votes ends the two-party abuse and allows Libertarian candidates equal ballot access and federal funding.”  

In reality, there is no guarantee of equal ballot access and unfortunately for Johnson he was unable to reach the mark anyway. On the bright side, however, the “fame” that he acquired throughout his 2012 campaign earned him enough funding to be on the ballot in all 50 states during this election cycle.  

So, what exactly would happen if Johnson actually gets his 5%?  While this would put more money in the pockets of the Libertarian Party, it would not actually ensure them any more votes.  It would not even ensure them a spot on the debate stage.

A campaign advertisement from Gary Johnson's 2012 presidential campaign.
A campaign advertisement from Gary Johnson’s 2012 presidential campaign.

Johnson is quick to compare himself to Ross Perot, an independent candidate of the Reform party who ran in 1996 against Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. Yet, even Perot, a billionaire who was allowed to debate, only achieved 19% of the electoral vote. So, yes, it is optimistic to assume that federal funding would “end two-party abuse” the way that Johnson describes. However, it is not untrue to say that it could shake things up a bit.

Johnson supporters seem both eager to help their candidate reach his goal and relieved that they are not forced to choose between Clinton and Trump. At the end of the day, Johnson’s presence on the ticket adds yet another interesting twist in this election. Whether you voted Johnson, Clinton, Trump, Stein, Castle, or Mickey Mouse, the most important thing is that you voted at all.

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