The Lid: The Third Party Factor

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is running for president as a Libertarian, just as he did 2012 when he managed to get 1.2 million votes. Regardless of his chances of a win, Johnson is reaching out to undecided Republican voters who are looking for a third-party option and are unconvinced that Donald Trump is the answer. / AFP PHOTO/AFP/Getty ImagesAFP - Getty Images

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By Carrie Dann and Andrew Rafferty

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos… The Trump campaign accidentally revealed its search for dirt on the Whitewater scandal after emailing the request to a POLITICO reporter with the same last name as a campaign advise.. The error gave ambitious journalists hope that those dummy “paul.manafort@gmail and “CoreyL4Trump2016@hotmail” accounts might still come through some day.

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‘16 from 30,000

With the Libertarian Party Convention looming this weekend, it’s a good time for a reminder that - while it may not be a nationally-known GOP white knight riding to the rescue - there will be at least one third party candidate appearing on the ballot in almost every state. Our colleague Leigh Ann Caldwell has the details on the weekend’s proceedings in Orlando, where libertarians will gather to pick their nominee. There are a total of 15 candidates, but only about five or six are competitive. But, Caldwell notes, this is a particularly competitive year. The top three contenders are former New Mexico governor and 2012 party nominee Gary Johnson, software entrepreneur John McAfee (also a “person of interest” in Belize in connection with a murder case) and media consultant Austin Peterson. It’s theoretically possible that someone like Ben Sasse could show up and be considered, but speculation about that possibility seems to have dwindled in recent weeks.

Third party advocates will note that our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 47 percent of registered voters said they’d consider a third party candidate for president this cycle. And yes, that’s a little higher than in the past two cycles, but not by a huge margin; typically about four-in-ten voters have said they’d think about another option on the ballot. But here’s the caveat: The moment that a name and a set of policies is attached to the idea of a third party, that 47 percent would fall to Earth really fast.



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