Gary Johnson, Third Parties, and So-Called Joke Candidates


Though former Gov. Gary Johnson has dropped his bid for major party acceptance, he is still poking at Democrats and Republicans both as he reaches for the Libertarian Party's nomination. Recently he told Huffington Post that yes, even "Mickey Mouse would poll 15 percent against Romney or Obama." People are that fed up, suggests the ex-Republican.

Bold words from a fellow who is technically polling lower than television comedian Stephen Colbert, at least according to Public Policy Polling.

PPP has Colbert at 13 percent nationally and Johnson at 7 percent, which is admittedly somewhat higher than you might expect for a man who got more or less screwed over by some of the biggest polling and media outfits when they incessantly lumped him under "other" and declared that he had not earned a place in the debates.

Notes Yahoo News, a Colbert or similar candidacy is not always unserious:

"If there were ever an election cycle when a television character would not be considered a joke, it would be this one," [PPP director of polling Tom] Jensen said. "Americans are disgusted with the candidates on both sides, and fed up with politics. I actually think if Stephen Colbert were to run as an independent, and keep talking about the issues he's been talking about the last week or so for the next 10 months, he'd probably do pretty well in a general election. Certainly not well enough to win, but well enough to justify his third-party candidacy."

The poll showed that Colbert would actually hurt Obama more than Romney, shrinking the president's current five-point lead over Romney to within the poll's 3.7 percent margin of error.

Colbert, who is from South Carolina, spent the day rallying with Herman Cain, that former would-be-GOP-candidate who danced on the edge of being hilarious, but could never fully commit until now. Cain remains on the ballot in South Carolina, while Colbert in his Citizens United-mocking, SuperPAC-funded journey towards the fake presidency, couldn't manage to get there. Cain's various terrible political stances are are least no longer alarming now that his media moment is over.

Huffington Post probably asked Johnson about a third partier's chances for success because a new Washington Post shows maybe higher support for the idea of a third party than you might think. The people who want one least are Democrats. The people who wants one most are, ahem, independents.

Washington Post:

Some 48 percent think there is a need for a third way in party politics, and just as many, 49 percent, say not so. Overall, 22 percent say they would definitely vote for a third party candidate with whom they agreed on most issues; another 46 percent would at least consider it. Fewer than three in 10 would flatly rule it out.

The full poll results can be found here. Reason-Rupe polls have also found that the young and the libertarian-leaning are more likely to support or considering voting for a third party candidate.

It's often tempting to just sayof course all political campaigns are an unfunny joke so why not vote for a funnier joke? Though, there is one worthwhile candidate; The great humorist Dave Barry, who has been running for president unceasingly since sometime in the '90s, is a libertarian and once did an amazing Reason interview, which would almost make me consider my non-voter's stance. Within it Barry manages to be smart and human about the drug war, prostitution prohibition, and government job creation. Spoiler alert, he hates all those things, but go read the interview in full anyway.

So yes, all politicians are fundamentally ludicrous, but if we're not going to get rid of them, I guess more competition amongst them can't make things much worse. I think there's a book about that?

Anyway, commenters, what say you? Will you throw your vote away on a comedian, a cartoon character, or Herman Cain? Would you consider it?

While you mull that over, watch this video where former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra explains how his 1979 San Francisco mayoral campaign is "no more or less of a joke" than anyone else's. He came in fifth, by the way. 

Reason on Gary Johnson; and on third parties and fringe candidates