Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson did something amazing last week: got double-digits (10) in a September poll of Ohio likely voters. He’s simultaneously getting the usual smattering of positive press, the most popular of which has been Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic declaring that he intends to vote for Johnson. Friedersdorf explains that serious liberals should have serious problems with President Obama on war, civil liberties, and executive power, issues on which Johnson is superior.
Beyond that sort of principled iconoclasm, serious news sources such as NPR are declaring Johnson might likely sway the election in that third party role as “spoiler” for both Obama and Romney in swing states. Johnson told C-SPAN this week that his own polling has found that in New Mexico and Colorado, he takes more from Obama, and in North Carolina and Michigan he takes more away from Romney. A Reason-Rupe poll finds him taking equally from both nationally.
Still, the history of third parties and the sclerosis of American politics lead one to guess that no matter how necessary a Johnson victory is to the health of the country, he's still likely to falter.