WASHINGTON, November 6, 2012 — As the voters head to the polls today and Americans prepare for a nail biter, they are also gearing up to assess blame if their candidate bites the dust.
You can almost hear it now:
“He was too cool and aloof.”
“He was too robotic.”
“He did nothing as president/governor.”
“He’s too far Left/Right.”
“He didn’t campaign enough in the swing counties of the swing states.”
“The other guy’s ground game was better and got out the vote.”
But what if there is one quirk that tipped the election, one that is a real chink in any candidate’s armor? The Spoiler. In this case, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson.
The last thing a candidate needs is a third party candidate to be the ultimate spoiler. The one who hands victory to the other guy.
However, if Governor Mitt Romney does lose what is expected to be a tight race, according to pundits from both ends of the political spectrum, it might be because he lost keys votes in swing states thanks to third party candidate and Libertarian Gary Johnson.
Will History Repeat Itself?
Johnson is actually poised to do to Romney what Ross Perot (who took 19% of the popular vote) did nationally to President George H. W. Bush in 1992, and what Ralph Nader did to Al Gore in Florida 2000.
Sure Romney had his own missteps along the way, from his 47% remark to changing his positions on the issues of the day. And his foreign policy seemed to be all over the map and sometimes tone deaf, especially when he went abroad. But then there was Obama’s disastrous first debate performance, a game changer, which began to turn things around for Romney. Plus Romney had an enthusiasm groundswell in the last weeks of the campaign.
Then came the uptick in the polls for Obama in the following two debates as well as Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Chris Christie. Plus the jobs numbers improved in October and November. Add to this, Obama has the advantage of being an incumbent. Yet looming over all of this has been the sluggish economy, enough to sink any re-election chances.
All of these factors have kept the election close. Romney probably found the presidential race more of an endurance race than he bargained for, starting with the tough slog through the Republican primaries to the presidential election coming down to the wire today. That means whoever wins may only win by inches.
The last thing Gov. Romney needs is former New Mexico governor and Libertarian Gary Johnson in the race. If Johnson racks up the 5% of the vote he is hoping to corner so he can get federal funding for a 2016 presidential run, he can do some serious damage to Romney in crucial states. If the handfuls of polls are accurate, Johnson just might do it.
While most major pollsters don’t even include Gary Johnson, much less any of the other third party candidates, when they conduct their polls, Fox News recently found that Johnson was getting 9% of the vote in Arizona, 7% in New Hampshire and 13% in New Mexico. And his support doesn’t just come from the Libertarian Party and supporters of Congressman Ron Paul, but from many Republican stalwarts who want government shrunk.
What A Difference 5% Can Make
But even more troubling are the numbers for Romney in the Buckeye State, Ohio, where Romney has been in a battle royal for the votes that could decide the next president. The CNN poll released last Friday showed:
What a difference 5% could make in this contest. Is Johnson the tipping point that hands Ohio and the election to Obama?
If that happens, you can imagine the Republican outrage on Wednesday morning. If you thought Democrats turned on Ralph Nader, making him a persona non grata after the 2000 election, you can imagine the fury that will be unleashed against Johnson and the Libertarians.
The GOP is already irate over the antics of the libertarian wing of its party and the role of Ron Paul during the primaries, but now to have their best shot at the White House upended by Gary Johnson?
Watch what comes next: Hell hath no fury like a political party capsized by a spoiler.
To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.
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