New York Times: What If – Could Gary Johnson Get Hot and Play the Spoiler?

ImageFrom the New York Times on September 5:

“Unpopular among many Americans, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have opened the door for a third-party spoiler in the presidential campaign — and just as Gary Johnson is starting to warm up.

“Voters like Carlos Moreno could help him catch fire.

“‘I certainly don’t want Trump to get in, but Clinton worries me,’ said Moreno, a registered Democrat who works as a process server in the Phoenix area. ‘I’ve thought about Johnson, but I haven’t begun reading up on him. I better start.'”

“But there’s a chance that Johnson could move a close race toward Clinton, in much the same way that Ralph Nader pulled enough votes away from Al Gore in 2000 to hand Florida to George W. Bush.

“Of the roughly dozen battleground states on the road to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, it’s in Arizona where circumstances could align in just such a way that Johnson could play spoiler.

“In congressional elections in Arizona four years ago, Libertarian candidates drew enough votes away from GOP candidates to allow Democrats Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema to win a pair of U.S. House races.

“The state’s junior senator, Jeff Flake, who had endeared himself to many Libertarians while serving in the House, won his bid for Senate that year, too.

“‘It could happen,’ said Flake. ‘Donald Trump has managed to make this an interesting state in terms of presidential politics, and not in the way that Republicans have wanted.’

“But the politics of third-party spoilers are complicated.

“In an August CNN poll conducted in Arizona, likely Republican voters were slightly more likely than Democrats to say they’ll support Johnson if he’s on the ballot, 10 percent to 4 percent.

“But Trump’s advantage over Clinton in the poll actually widened slightly when Johnson was included, from 5 points to 7 points. That could indicate that Johnson gives a home to voters who feel closer to the Republican Party, but are not planning on supporting Trump even in a two-person race.”