Despite long shot odds, third party candidates still worth voting for

While Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump continue to mire in majority “unfavorable” ratings, Libertarian and Green Party presidential nominees Gary Johnson and Jill Stein have failed to capitalize on the American public’s disenchantment with the major candidates.

Since the middle of September, both Johnson and Stein have seen their average national polling numbers slowly decline, from a high of 9.2 percent for Gary Johnson and 3.3 percent for Jill Stein, down to 6.5 and 2.4 points, respectively.

There are still two main practical reasons to pull the proverbial lever for either one on Nov. 8, however, as Derek Miller, associate professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, pointed out in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed.

One, most states grant automatic ballot access to a party whose presidential candidate receives a certain percentage of the popular vote, which saves a lot of time and money in the next election cycle.

According to Mr. Miller, presidential ballot petitions cost parties approximately $1 to $5 per signature, which can add up in states with stringent requirements such as Texas and North Carolina.

The actual vote threshold needed to earn an exemption varies by state as well. For example, in Minnesota, a candidate must achieve at least five percent, compared to two percent in Kentucky and only one percent in Colorado.

Based on the latest polling in those states, the Libertarian Party would receive exemptions in all three for the next presidential election, while the Green Party would only be awarded ballot provisions in Kentucky and Colorado.

The second reason for a voter to support a third party presidential candidate who seemingly has no chance to win, is the FEC rule for receiving matching public funds in the next election.  If a White House contender receives at least five percent of the national popular vote, their party will be offered tax-payer money to finance its next presidential campaign.

The exact amount of public money a third party is eligible to receive is based on their presidential vote total in the previous election compared to the average amount of votes for the two major party candidates.

Through August, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein have only raised a combined $11.7 million for their campaigns. If each garners five percent of the popular vote in November, their respective parties will be eligible to receive at least $10 million each in 2020.

By comparison, according to the latest FEC filings, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have raised a combined $556 million for their individual campaigns, not including outside super PAC money.

On Monday, Gary Johnson visited Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., where he laid out his vision for how to improve federal executive government.

 

[Wall Street Journal] [RealClear Politics] [Center for Responsive Politics] [McClarver Productions] [Photo courtesy change.org]