Once former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reached the amount of superdelegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination for president, it seemed like there was only Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in her way. And defeating him seemed doable. But former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson's campaign could hurt Clinton's chances down the road. Gary Johnson is the official Libertarian candidate running for president, and so far, he has raised around $700,000, all through donations and without big donors or Super Pacs.
He's also very seriously running for president and is already included in polls for the general election; Johnson might even have a place on the debate stage later this summer, once the Democratic and Republican parties choose their nominees. In other words, Johnson could potentially and seriously mess things up. To do that, he needs to keep being included in more and more polls, as candidates need to be invited to the debates by the Commission on Presidential debates (CDP).
He needs at least 15 percent of the national vote in the polls. So far, Johnson has been included in certain polls and is just at the mark to get an invite to the first debate after Labor Day. A recent Fox News poll put him at 12 percent in a Fox poll, a CBS poll placed him at 11 percent; Johnson came in with around 7 percent of the prospective vote in a separate ABC/Washington Post poll.
Johnson also needs to be included on state ballots to make a big impact — and so far, he's is already on 32. If Johnson gets up on the stage with, presumably, Clinton and Donald Trump, things could skew a very distinct way.
Third party candidates are interesting to lots of different kinds of voters. Johnson is self described as "fiscally conservative" and "socially liberal." He's low-key on foreign policy, pro-immigration and LGBTQ rights, wants to lower taxes and to legalize marijuana. He's everything a Bernie Bro licking their wounds could want, especially if they're having trouble swallowing the Hillary Clinton pill.
The thing about Johnson is that he is not straight Libertarian, in fact, some voters booed him during the CNN Libertarian Town Hall for saying that he voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So he might not just attract Bernie Sanders supporters, but he could also interest some Republicans who are getting a little wary of Donald Trump. Johnson is a little bit of everything that a disgruntled voter who's not thrilled by either candidate might be happy with.
And who knows – if Johnson does it make it to the debates and he has things to say, he could most certainly sway voters from Team Hillary. And if that happens, Clinton should be prepared to face the music.