Gary Johnson’s Road to the White House

40593358 - voter registration application for presidential election 2016Yes, he’s a long shot, but Gary Johnson, Libertarian candidate for president, has the best chance to make it to the White House of any Libertarian candidate so far.  To have a chance, he only has to pick up enough electoral votes to keep Clinton or Trump from getting an electoral majority.

The Constitution says that if no candidate receives a majority of the electoral votes, the House of Representatives chooses the president from among the top three electoral vote recipients.  If the election between Clinton and Trump is close, Johnson would only have to win a few states (maybe only one) to be one of the top three electoral vote recipients.  The Constitution gives no preference to any of the three candidates when nobody wins an electoral majority.  When no candidate had a majority in the 1824 election, the House chose John Quincy Adams for president even though Andrew Jackson had more electoral votes.

If Johnson picked up enough electoral votes to keep Clinton and Trump from winning outright, the majority Republican House of Representatives would then choose either Clinton, Johnson, or Trump to be the next president.  It is easy to see that a Republican House would not choose Clinton, but it is also likely they would favor Johnson over Trump.  Johnson is a former Republican governor, but as the Libertarian candidate, choosing Johnson would also be a way for them to claim they are being non-partisan by not choosing the Republican or the Democrat.

For this to happen, Johnson will have to win some electoral votes, which means that rather than running a truly national campaign, the Libertarian party should target a few states that are most likely to swing their way.  I have to think that the Libertarian party and the Johnson campaign have already figured this out.  Sure, it’s a long shot, but because of the way the electoral college system works, it is well within the realm of possibility.

Gary Johnson could be our next president.

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas: Taxation, Foundations, and Philanthropy in America .
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