Why 5% matters to Gary Johnson
Gary Johnson's latest ad is asking voters to "cast a protest vote that counts" by helping reach him 5 percent of the popular vote.
The Johnson's campaign says, "5 percent of the votes ends the two-party abuse and allows Libertarian candidates equal ballot access and federal funding. "
This not exactly accurate.
Winning 5 percent of the popular vote will not give the Libertarian candidate direct ballot access in all 50 states in the next election, as the ad insinuates. States control the election processes, and each of them have different rules regarding the requirements to have a third party candidate's name on the ballot.
These state requirements will have to be met again in the next election, regardless of Gary Johnson's results this year. However, as Johnson is already on the ballot in 48 states and a write-in on another (Oklahoma is the only state excluding him from the ballot), the financial rewards reaped from reaching 5 percent will most likely allow him to access the ballot in all fifty states in the next election cycle.
For many third party candidates, resources, in both time and money, prevent them from appearing on a majority of ballots. Third party candidate Ross Perot, one of the most well known third party candidates, was on the ballot in 50 states in 1992 and 1996 because he was a billionaire who had enough resources to meet all the requirements.
In terms of financing, 5 percent will radically change the Libertarian candidate's hand in the next election. Indeed 5 percent is the milestone set by the Federal Election Commission to be eligible for the Presidential Election Campaign Fund's grant. The amount of public funding available to the minor party candidate is based on the the ratio of the party's popular vote in the preceding presidential election to the average popular vote of the two major party candidates in that election.
If the libertarian candidate in the 2008 election had received 5 percent of the vote, Gary Johnson would have received approximately $9.5 million from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. As of today, Governor Johnson has raised $2.3 million for his campaign, more than three times less than what he would have started with. If he had the additional grant money, he could have been on the ballot in every state, and would have been able to pursue a larger scale campaign.
By reaching 5 percent of the popular vote, Gary Johnson will secure approximately $10 million for the Libertarian candidate in the 2016 election. For a third party candidate, this is significant and justifies Gary Johnson's recent quest to give him five.
About the Author
French traveler on a journey to understand the arcane of American politics while enjoying life in San Diego.