Democrats and Republicans weren't the only voters to experience the pains and pleasures of Super Tuesday—third parties, which in 2016 had their best presidential showing in two decades, were also on the ballot in a handful of states.
Libertarian Party primaries and caucuses are nonbinding, which means that no delegates are awarded based on results. As ever, candidates for the nomination of the country's third-largest party need to persuade a simple majority of the state L.P. delegates who attend the May 21-25 national convention in Austin, Texas. Still, the election results provide a snapshot of what party members are thinking less than three months out.
So far, the trend line is unmistakable—the Libertarian front-runner at this point is longtime libertarian-movement hand and Future of Freedom Foundation founder Jacob Hornberger. After previously winning the Iowa and Minnesota caucuses, and getting the second-most first-place votes in the New Hampshire primary as a write-in, Hornberger was the biggest human vote-getter in two of the three* Super Tuesday primaries that have posted results so far.
In California, with 99.9 percent of precincts reporting, Hornberger led a field of 13 candidates with 17.5 percent of the vote. Tied for second with 11.6 percent were former military officer and Honolulu County Neighborhood Board member Ken Armstrong, and political satirist Vermin Supreme, the latter of whom previously won the New Hampshire primary. Lagging just behind at 11.4 percent was 1996 L.P. vice presidential nominee and academic Jo Jorgensen.
Massachusetts officials don't expect to have an official statewide count until next week. According to unofficial numbers compiled by local Libertarian officials, comprising roughly three-quarters of ballots, "no preference"*** was leading with around 19 percent of the vote, followed by Vermin Supreme with 11.5 percent and Hornberger with 9.4 percent. Write-ins, which have not yet been broken down, amounted to a combined 29.3 percent.**
And in North Carolina, as Elizabeth Nolan Brown reported this morning, Hornberger again paced the biped field with 8.7 percent, though perennial L.P. favorite "None of the Above" (NOTA) stomped with 29.8 percent. (NOTA wasn't on the ballot in California.) Just behind Hornberger with 8.2 percent was antivirus pioneer and international man of mystery John McAfee, who promptly dropped out, threw his support behind Vermin Supreme, and announced his candidacy for vice president:
That I am ending my campaign for President.
I am instead
Attempting to run
For the Vice Presidential slot.
And offer to be his VP pick.
Full explanation in video. pic.twitter.com/750ggzJdBY
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) March 4, 2020
Not on any of the three Super Tuesday Libertarian ballots were recent entrants Lincoln Chafee (the former U.S. senator and Rhode Island governor, who finished second in the Iowa L.P. caucus and tied for fourth in Minnesota); entrepreneur/ex-convict Mark Whitney (11th and fourth, respectively, in same), and former million-vote-getting Georgia gubernatorial candidate John Monds (15th and fourth).
Meanwhile, the leading fundraiser in the race, activist and veteran Adam Kokesh, finished sixth in California with 7.9 percent, eighth in Massachusetts with 3.5 percent, and ninth in North Carolina with 3.5 percent.
With the Democratic nomination seesawing back into Joe Biden territory, dimming the prospects of a populist/nationalist vs. populist/socialist election, the allure for potential latecomers into the Libertarian race will surely lessen. This could well be the final field in the contest to be the third candidate on the ballot in all 50 states. Much can and will change between now and late May but, for the moment, Jacob Hornberger is your Libertarian front-runner.
* CORRECTION: Originally said "all three."
** CORRECTION: This paragraph originally misattributed unofficial voting numbers from Boston as being totals for the entire state.
*** CORRECTION: Was originally "None of the Above."