Hillary Feels The Johnson

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Bruce Majors Freelance Writer
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Rush Limbaugh often points out to his radio audience that he is correct 99% of the time.

On Thursday’s show last week he admitted he had been wrong.

Rush reported that though he had promulgated the standard conservative pundit line of Sean Hannity and others in attacking “third” party candidates like Libertarian Gary Johnson for “stealing” votes from the GOP, polls show that Governor Johnson is actually hurting Hillary Clinton more.  Friday’s Politico confirms that Clinton campaign staff are worried about Gary Johnson, and over the weekend President Obama and other surrogates begged millennial voters to stick with Clinton.  Church Todd and other Sunday show Democrats fretted about Johnson’s bleeding Hillary of young supporters.

A standard trope of conservative Republican activists for years has been that Libertarian candidates specifically and independents generally, “take” votes from Republican candidates.  Even as 40% of voters stopped voting for President. A curious position where conservatives who generally oppose compulsory union membership denounced nonconforming voters as “scabs.”

Liberal media outposts, like MSNBC’s Morning Joe show — which usually take weeks to catch up to Rush, The Daily Caller, Drudge Report and other alternative media on campaign topics like Mrs. Clinton’s emails or health — have more quickly recognized that Gary Johnson mainly hurts Hillary.  Mika Brzezinski today openly wished that Johnson’s more sophisticated, East Coast patrician, seemingly liberal running mate, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, had been at the top of the ticket, as Weld, to her taste, is more progressive palatable, and would make the Libertarians bleeding Hillary of votes somewhat more intelligible.

Earlier in the campaign, Hillary was said by Donald Trump to have been “schlonged.”  Last week the pro-Hillary PAC PrioritiesUSA announced a multi-million dollar digital media push to keep Hillary from feeling the Johnson:

“We’ll be launching a multimillion-dollar digital campaign that talks about what’s at stake and how a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Donald Trump, who is against everything these voters stand for,” said Justin Barasky, a strategist for Priorities USA.

Today Al Gore, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Bernie Sanders all stepped up their commitment to elect Hillary and urged Democrats not to abandon Hillary for Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Despite a growing number of newspaper endorsements of Johnson or of people calling for him to be included in the debate, the bipartisan Commission on Pesidential Debates Friday announced it would exclude Johnson. Pro-Johnson activists are planning a protest rally (which they have been instructed to say is not official but is only “campaign tolerated” and a “peaceful assembly”) outside the downtown D.C. offices of the Presidential Debate Commission at lunch this Wednesday to demand that Gary Johnson be included in the debates.  Perhaps as a result of the new Hillary campaign plan to attack Johnson on social media, yesterday the Facebook notice for the event was attacked suddenly by Democratic posters raging that Johnson be excluded.  (Though aiming for a thousand people this morning organizers say they are only sure of 300.)

Though polls show that Johnson is definitely serving as an electoral oasis for independents and Democrats who normally vote for the most liberal candidate, but feel that Hillary Clinton is so morally compromised as to be a bridge too far, it remains the case that Johnson may deny Trump Electoral College votes in specific states like Arizona or Utah, while pulling more popular votes from Hillary nationwide.  From the standpoint of either establishment party, he’s a chaos factor.

I was curious about one group of electoral defectors to Johnson who might not have voted for Hillary, the several “Republicans for Gary Johnson” groups that have been created, primarily on social media.  While some establishment Republican politicians in the #NeverTrump movement have endorsed Hillary, and a few around Bill Kristol casted about for an “independent conservative” candidate, a few, like former Republican Liberty Caucus national chair Dave Nalle have decided to campaign for Johnson.   And a growing list of former GOP governors, including Mitch Daniels, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mitt Romney and Christine Todd Whitman have called for including Gary Johnson in the presidential debates:

Earlier this month, libertarian Republican political consultant Liz Mair pitched Johnson to one of the D.C. conservative Republican meetings that dare not speak their name (closed to the press), to a slightly irritated crowd of non-profit CEOs and PR peeps who didn’t like Johnson’s and Weld’s “liberal” positions, though also did not seem to be Trump enthusiasts.  Nalle’s group had raised around $20,000 earlier this month, but planning to raise much more (dwarfed by the $3 million the Johnson campaign raised the same month).