Considering how close presidential elections have been in recent years, conservative votes for the Libertarian Party nominee, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson – who is likely to be the preferred back-up option for Ron Paul supporters – could swing enough votes in enough swing states to swing the election…and control of the Supreme Court for a generation…to Obama in November.
So what does the GOP do about all those conservative/libertarian voters who still aren’t sold on voting for Mitt Romney?
First, Republicans need to understand that browbeating and kvetching about “wasting your vote” on a third-party candidate will only cause those voters to dig in their heels. Instead, you might want to brush up on Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends” advice.
That said, Republicans must bear in mind that Libertarians have a political self-interest, as well. They’ve nominated the most credible and accomplished candidate in their party’s history, which could earn them a record-breaking popular vote total this year.
But there’s a way for everyone to eat their cake and have it, too. The way to do it is for Johnson and the LP to focus their campaigning in the solid “blue” (Obama) states where a popular vote for Johnson won’t affect the electoral vote calculus.
But what about the Libertarians and Ron Paul supporters in swing states, like Nevada, who are hesitant to vote for Romney? What can they do to help boost Johnson’s popular vote total without risking Nevada again going for Obama?
Vote swapping. Johnson and the LP should embark on an effort to get people who want to vote for Johnson in swing states to voluntarily and unofficially “swap” their vote with a Romney voter in a blue state.
Now, this vote swapping idea isn’t anything new.
I remember it hitting radar screens in 2000 when Al Gore’s Democrats were trying to find a way to keep the Green Party’s Ralph Nader from spoiling “Ozone Al’s” presidential bid. Imagine how much easier it would be for the LP to promote and coordinate a similar nationwide vote swap project using the Internet, Facebook and all the other social media tools we have at our disposal today.
Here’s the bottom line: Gary Johnson is no more going to be elected president this year than Ron Paul. But if his objective is just to beat the LP’s popular vote record and move his party forward, many conservative/libertarian voters would gladly swap their Johnson vote in swing states with Romney voters in blue states in November.
But if Johnson’s objective is simply to spoil Romney’s chances in swing states, thereby re-electing the imperial socialist we have in office now, well…fuggetaboutit. Not too many swing voters will want to have THAT on their conscience the rest of their lives!