Third Party Planning

Did you hear? The Republican former governor—long anointed as the presumed candidate—officially gained the party's nomination over the weekend. No, I'm not talking about Mitt Romney. Come November, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson will be on the ballot in all 50 states under the banner of the Libertarian Party. Johnson spent last year running in the Republican primary, but he abandoned his dream of securing the nomination after only making in into two debates and barely registering in the polls. Despite this, Johnson made a bit of a name for himself as a cooler version of Ron Paul—the one who climbs Mount Everest and doesn't look and act like your crazy uncle. Johnson is your typical libertarian: He's pro-pot (which he himself used, though only the medical variety, of course), supports same-sex marriage, and opposes the ongoing war in Afghanistan, but aligns himself with the extreme economic policies of the GOP's Tea Party wing. 

The Libertarian Party puts a candidate up every year to little success, but they're more hopeful with Johnson as their standard bearer. The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf thinksJohnson's résumé—he was a popular two-term governor—might be enough to propel libertarians past their typical 1 percent vote share. A Public Policy Polling survery last month backed up that optimism; Johnson was projected to steal 6 percent of the popular vote when pitted against Romney and Obama. But it seems more likely that Johnson was a stand-in for voters' dissatisfaction with the top two candidates rather than any indication that voters are leaning libertarian. As Jonathan Bernstein wrote: "He hasn't really demonstrated any ability to raise serious money, and he's really not at all well-known nationally." He won't sway enough of the electorate to play the spoiler role, but Johnson is at least positioned to feed the media's fascination with third-party candidates.


So They Say

"I think Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has done so far."

Vice President Joe Biden, describing his views on same-sex marriage yesterday on Meet the Press

Daily Meme: Watching an Evolving Position Unfold

  • Joe Biden made remarks on Meet the Press yesterday that sounded a whole heck of a lot like an endorsement for gay marriage. 
  • David Axelrod says you'd be wrong to think that. 
  • Were we just watching the spring shoots of a Biden 2016 campaign?
  • Or maybe the White House is trying to moonwalk to supporting gay marriage without us noticing? 
  • Oh wait! Biden isn't alone, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also came out in support of gay marriage today.
  • Maybe strategic ambiguity is the best policy when it comes to gay marriage?
  • Or maybe not: "It’s just that it’s not easy to explain why Obama is still stuck with a position that could be summed up as 'separate, but equal.'”

What We're Writing

  • Jamelle Bouie: Obama has nothing to lose by endorsing same-sex marriage before the election
  • Paul Waldman: Romney's insight as a businessman hasn't lead to any original ideas on how to fix the economy


What We're Reading

  • John Cassidy: What the French election means for Obama
  • The 30-year-old pushing Mitt Romney's message
  • Molly Ball: Obama's strong Virginia ground team won't have the same empty playing field in 2012.
  • Jon Chait: Get ready for stimulus round two if Romney is elected president.
  • Ed Kilgore: Ron Paul's campaign has been successful at shifting economic policy for his party; now he just needs to work on the foreign side.
  • Joshua Green: Obama's new ad "suggests that the campaign is more worried about the question 'Are you better off now than four years ago?' than it lets on and that Obama is going to try hard to maximize the number of voters who say 'yes.'"
  • Politico offers a pre-eulogy for Dick Lugar before tomorrow's primary.
  • $12 million has already been spent in congressional races by super PACs.


Poll of the Day

Things still look dire for same-sex marriage proponents in North Carolina. In their last poll before tomorrow's vote, Public Policy Polling found a 55 percent majority planning to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage and civil unions, despite a majority favoring some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples.

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