No, Gary Johnson did not help Trump to win

We all knew it would happen, and like most predictable excuses after an election result like this, it did; the ‘which phobia do the electorate have?’ game, and the ‘money and power bought the election’ scoff, or the ‘thank goodness for/ban the electoral college system’ depending on the outcome, as well as the ‘there has to be some catch’ conspiracy, among many others. I’m going to look at the latter for a bit here.

The Independent (newspaper) released an article on the morning of the result pontificating on how an independent (candidate) potentially cost Hillary Clinton the numbers needed in Florida to secure the presidency. This so-called “independent”, however, was Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. Their theory seems to suggest that had Johnson not run (or perhaps more ludicrously, had the voters cast ballots for the “right” candidate) then the “Liberal Vote” would not have been split and much of his 3.1% share of the state’s vote would have been with her, securing a victory for those sweet Electoral College votes in the most autocratic of ways.

Firs of all, we should consider how Johnson is only referred to as a ‘libertarian’, while they fail to name the Libertarian Party even once. This undermines the party’s legitimacy, especially having just achieved their highest ever result at ~3% of the national vote, as well as undermining the reader’s intelligence by failing to inform them properly.

Jill Stein does receive the honour of having her respective party, The Green Party, presented by her name, however her comparatively low vote of 0.7% in Florida is not mentioned. Considering all this, while contemporaneously making such a strong point about the impact Johnson has had in this election but not mentioning his party, they give away a glaring bias; the Independent (newspaper) is not so independent

The second point to bear in mind is how the newspaper succeed in pointing out that Johnson was a former Republican governor of New Mexico from 1995-2003. I assume this is done an attempt to further pit Gary as the ‘bad guy’ in this scenario (they also point out his “Aleppo” incident, so they clearly have it out for him). This begs the question, though – how can they genuinely suggest that a former Republican shifted votes away from a Democrat? This oxymoronic point proves fatal to their own fallacy. Wouldn’t his vote, had he not run, been swept by Trump? The space between the two high-rankers could’ve looked more like 52.1/46.6 if we play along more reasoned logic.

Using this same method and looking at the results in New Mexico without the former Republican Governor there, the state where he was governor, then his 9.3% would’ve brought the current Republican candidate up to 49.3%, thus Trumping Clinton’s 46.6%. Trump would’ve stolen the Electoral College votes from New Mexico and widened that gap further. In fact, in the entire election, Gary Johnson’s 3% if uncontested could likely have furthered Trump’s chances elsewhere, creating a wider gap between the two candidates and allowing Trump to win the popular vote as well as the electoral college votes.

With Johnson’s policies running on a mandate of free-market Capitalism, reducing the size of the state, legalising drugs, ending corporate welfare and protectionism which benefit the banks and Wall St., and most importantly the only non-interventionalist foreign policy on the table, comparing him to Clinton is ludicrous.
Clearly, this result was a rejection of both candidates, and the voter has the right to cast their ballot for the persons they feel most deserving and representing of them. What establishment media like this want, however, is to continue the narrative of the two-party system as it works in their favour much better, but has been the failing of the ordinary American people who feel pressured into continuing the cycle.

But the electorate are showing signs they are becoming weary of this, and they’re using the ballot box to their advantage. With both third and fourth party candidates, Johnson and Stein, increasing their leads from 1% to 3% and 0.36% to 1% respectively, a clear shift in the voting habits of millions of Americans is materialising. We wait pensively to see how the next Libertarian candidate can improve further.


Dan is is the Conservatives for Liberty Northern Ireland Policy Analyst. Follow him on Twitter: @danieljgavigan

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The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty