The question for the past few weeks has been: Will Gary Johnson hurt Mitt Romney in key swing states such as Ohio, where there are many college students, i.e. young voters? However, the question on my mind with less than a week until the election, is will liberals also support Johnson, and could it hurt President Obama's re-election?
The answer is yes and no. I believe there is plausible reasoning for liberals to want to support Johnson, but President Obama's reelection bid will not be difficult for this reason. More on why liberals could support Gary Johnson in a moment. Liberals are interesting, in that in relation to the President, they often feel left down or ignored. For example, liberals lost most of what they wanted during Obamacare, the most striking example being a universal, single payer system. Another example would be immigration reform, which the President has placed on the back burner in light of more important issues.
Despite being disenfranchised, young voters still, on the whole, see Obama as the 2008 candidate of "change we can believe in," but feel he has been sidetracked by an economic crisis. They either have faith that when not facing re-election, Obama will more emphatically push the social and world issues that he campaigned on in 2008, or in swing states, they see voting for anyone else as a vote aiding Mitt Romney.
Liberals in swing states know that the presidency is at stake, and will be unlikely to "waste" their vote and potentially end up with a candidate they would or could never support, in Mitt Romney. Because 4-5% of Repubilcans may have already supported Johnson when he ran on the GOP ticket during the primaries, they are less likely to consider voting for him a "waste." Liberals, by contrast, have likely not followed Johnson's policies closely until now, because they knew they would be voting Democrat ... right?
The only potential exception to this is if Democrats see the two party system as broken, and therefore rally behind libertarian policies.What are the core libertarian policies which liberals could get behind?
1) Drug Policy - The most straightforward or obvious is that Johnson has a much more liberal drug policy than President Obama. He has stated that he would end federal raids on state-run marijuana dispensaries, something that Obama said he'd end, but has yet to follow through on, and also not arrest harmless drug users. But this issue won't drive most harmless drug users out to the polls. If they were already going to vote, they were probably going to vote Obama.
2) Foreign Policy - Johnson is committed to bringing the troops home, period. In the third party candidate debate, he emphasized he would bring every soldier home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, he would reduce the country's spending by reducing troops stationed abroad, in allied countries, where their presence is not entirely necessary and in many cases is a hold over from WWII. He would emphasize a far more pacifist diplomacy, and would never go to war without the approval of Congress, and would not use drone warfare.
3) Civil Liberties - Johnson is hands down a protector of civil liberties, an area that the libertarian party has most greatly made its mark, especially regarding free speech. Also he believes the government should allow marriage equality, including gay marriage.
So by no means is this an endorsement or argument that liberal will be dropping the "al" and adding "tarian" on November 6th, but it is something that many might consider between now and election day, especially amongst individuals who believe the root of Washington's ineffectiveness is the two party system.
Although Johnson seems to have placed himself in the middle of the Democrats and Republicans, at least from a policy standpoint, don't expect liberals to come flocking his direction. Maybe next election?