CHEYENNE – Several electronic billboards in Cheyenne tell drivers Gary Johnson, a Libertarian, is the “absurdly honest” presidential candidate.
And in a year when the two major party candidates are among the most disliked in history, the Libertarian Party is trying again to push its message that there are more than two choices for president.
Johnson is currently the leading minor-party candidate nationally and in Wyoming.
His campaign is making ad buys, including in Wyoming and other Mountain West states, telling voters they have an alternate choice in the general election.
Nicholas Sarwark, the chairman of the national Libertarian Party, told the Tribune Eagle he thinks 2016 will exceed past Libertarian performance.
Sarwark expects Libertarians to have their largest-ever share of the popular vote and have “numbers far beyond what we’ve had in previous years.”
In 2012, Johnson had about 2 percent of the vote in Wyoming.
But in a state-by-state poll released by The Washington Post earlier this week, Johnson reined in the support of 15 percent of Wyoming respondents.
Donald Trump had 57 percent, Hillary Clinton had 21 percent, Dr. Jill Stein had 3 percent, and 4 percent had no opinion.
Though the poll has limitations, Johnson’s double-digit performance was reflected in other Mountain West states.
Johnson polled 25 percent in New Mexico, where he was governor; 23 percent in Utah; 19 percent in Idaho; 16 percent in Colorado and 14 percent in Montana.
Jim King, a professor at the University of Wyoming, said voters are looking for an alternative to Trump and Clinton.
“There’s enough dissatisfaction with the Republican and Democratic nominees that third-party candidates are becoming more attractive,” King said.
Keeping with trends seen in The Washington Post poll, the Libertarian Party has traditionally found stronger support in the Mountain West than in other regions, King said.
The Johnson campaign could not be reached for comment.
Sarwark, the national party chairman, said he thinks there’s a good chance Johnson can have high enough poll numbers to be able to participate in debates with Trump and Clinton.
Johnson needs to poll nationally at 15 percent before he can participate in the major debates.
Sarwark said he thinks Johnson can get more support if he can debate, and noted the Libertarian Party is the only other party besides Republicans and Democrats to have ballot access in all 50 states.
In addition to Johnson, Trump, Clinton and Stein, Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle and independent Rocky De La Fuente will be on the general election ballot in Wyoming.
Sarwark remained optimistic about this year’s election result, especially in Mountain West states, where he said voters think independently more so than other regions.
“They don’t fall in line when they’re told to,” he said.
Author: Matt Murphy, Wyoming Tribune Eagle – Updated Sep 8, 2016