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Third-Party Candidates Could Spell Trouble for Obama, Romney

Third-party candidates Gary Johnson, Virgil Goode, Jr., and Jill Stein are running for president and will appear on some ballots in November.

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are locked in a tight race for the presidency and polls show them in a virtual tie in Virginia, but residents will see three others candidates' names on the ballot come Election Day.

Obama and Romney will share the Nov. 6 ballot with:

  • Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico
  • Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode, Jr., a former Virginia congressman
  • Green Party candidate Jill Stein, a doctor from Massachusetts

These candidates’ chances of taking the Oval Office are slim, but they could siphon votes from Romney and Obama. In a battleground state like Virginia, that could make a difference in voting totals, some pundits say.

Gary Johnson

Johnson, who governed New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, supports scaling back federal spending by trillions of dollars, and supports gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana. Although he entered the presidential race as a Republican, some of his more controversial views made him divisive in the party. The Libertarian Party nominated him in May.  

Johnson, 59, is officially on the ballot in 47 states and the District of Columbia, and legal proceedings are under way to get him on the remaining three. Johnson had 4 percent of Virginia’s vote in an Oct. 7 poll. Obama and Romney have 48 percent and 44 percent, respectively, with 2 percent of voters undecided.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus recently told CNN that he viewed Johnson as a “non-factor” in the election, arguing that voters won’t recognize him. 

Politico reported Thursday that Johnson is being touted over Obama by progressive writer Conor Friedersdorf.

Johnson has been going after Ron Paul supporters. An August poll of 13,000 Paul supporters showed that 66 percent would vote for Johnson.

Before he was elected governor in New Mexico, Johnson took his skills as a handyman and applied them to a construction business, which he expanded and sold for millions of dollars in 1999.

Virgil Goode

Like Johnson, Virgil Goode, 65, also has experience in politics and public office. The Virginia native served as a member of the House of Representatives in the Commonwealth’s 5th District from 1997 to 2009.

Goode was elected to Congress as a Democrat, but switched to the Republican Party in 2000.

According to the Washington Post, Republican officials worry that Goode’s candidacy could also take votes from Romney and want Goode to drop out.

But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. In a recent interview with Salon.com, Goode said he doesn’t think he’ll be taking many votes from Romney. Instead, he believes he offers an alternative to Republicans who were considering voting for Obama or not at all.

An Oct. 7 poll by Public Policy Polling reports that Goode currently has 1 percent of Virginia’s vote.

The Post reports that Goode supports closing the deficit and promoting his policy to stop issuing green cards to immigrants until unemployment is under 5 percent. He is also opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Jill Stein

Green Party candidate Jill Stein, 62, has no prior governing experience, having lost in the 2002 and 2010 Massachusetts gubernatorial elections.

Stein, a doctor in Lexington, Mass., has campaigned at Occupy protest locations across the country. 

She is still working to get on ballots in six U.S. states, championing her idea of a “New Green Deal.” Stein claims that just as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal brought the nation out of the Great Depression of the 1930s, so too will her “Green New Deal” bring America “out of crisis” and closer to sustainability. The program promotes using new green technologies and the reforming the financial sector.

An Oct. 7, Public Policy Polling showed that Stein had zero percent of voters, but her name will still be on the ballot in November.

Johnson, Goode and Stein will all participate in a third-party presidential debate on Oct. 23 at 9 p.m. To watch the debate, go to freeandequal.org/live.

SP LaFalce October 11, 2012 at 04:45 PM
I very much doubt that any third-party candidates with have a discernable impact upon this election. Unlike 1992, when Perot ran a serious race for President and peeled off a lot of disaffected Republican Bush supporters, in 2012, Obama, a liberal Democrat is the incumbent, and there are no serious third-party threats out there, notwithstanding the author's very interesting description of those individuals seeking the Presidency. If Ron Paul decided to run for President, then I could see Romney losing a point or two, but clearly that is not the case.
John Andrews October 12, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Actually, Stein is running at about 2 per cent in recent polls. President Obama has betrayed just about every constituency that supported him in 2008. It's good that voters have a way to vote for someone like Stein who is a clear voice of integrity for peace, environmental protection, green jobs, health care for all, and protecting civil liberties. A vote for Obama is a vote for more betrayals. A vote for Stein is a vote to reverse the rightward drift. It's a clear choice.
Anna Marks October 12, 2012 at 07:48 AM
Here's your chance to vote for Gary Johnson: http://celebrity-plugs.com/t/
Watts October 12, 2012 at 04:18 PM
I think that how Gary Johnson shows in this election is probably the most significant number to watch. He will obviously do well in New Hampshire, because that is probably the most independently minded state and they aren't going to compromise with a "lesser of two evils" mentality. But how well Johnson does, specifically across swing states will show how ready this country is for more than what is basically a two party system right now. I think that the Republican party has been sinfully ignorant of the potential of Paul Ryan, especially with their complete disregard for him over these past two presidential election cycles. He should have bailed on the Republican party this time around and gone Libertarian. If he had, he would have been drawing from both Republican and Democratic voter bases and really proved the point. I actually think that if the Republican party had embraced Ron Paul, with their resources, he could have won it all.
T Ailshire October 12, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I plan to vote 3rd party. I would not, however, be doing so if my candidate had no mathematical chance of winning. Of the three listed here, only Johnson and Stein have their names on enough state ballots to hold a (theoretical) mathematical possibility of winning. Much as many will try to tell us a 3rd party vote is a wasted vote (imagine if all who said that actually WOULD vote 3rd party!); however, a vote for Goode is a vote for someone who must, by the laws of math and the Electoral College, lose. Sending a message is good. I wonder if sending a message that cannot be heard is also good.

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