161 Electoral Votes a Real Possibility for Gary Johnson

As the election season progresses, I will be updating our analysis and predictions for the November election. About 3 weeks ago I ran a story that suggested that Gary Johnson has a real shot at 99 electoral votes.  I am now prepared to re-assess and change that prediction to 161 electoral votes.


So the big question is how did I come to this conclusion, and what data did I use to make this type of predictions?

First off, I know it is a long shot for a Libertarian candidate to play this well in a general election, and in all reality, Gary Johnson might not get a single electoral vote.  But here I am, sitting and watching CNN, and Donald Trump is now the Republican nominee for President so anything is possible!

So let me break this down for you.

I have consistently said that Gary Johnson would play well out in the western part of the United States. That is Libertarian territory based on the lifestyle of many westerners, and Johnson being a Governor in that region gives him big a boost in name recognition.

In his home state of New Mexico, the most recent poll had the Governor at 14%.  He will play well in this state that is typically a Democratic state, but with the disconnect that many voters have over Trump and Clinton, the former governor is poised to have a great showing. If there is one state he can win it is New Mexico.

That same goes for Utah were a recent poll showed the Governor polling at 16% against Trump and Clinton. Here is our story about that from last month.

As for Colorado. The legalization of marijuana has been a successful venture for the state and a recent poll conducted shows that Governor Johnson is polling at 13%.  Colorado is the birthplace of the Libertarian Party and has a strong Libertarian presence with about 30,000 registered Libertarians in the state. Washington state (which hasn’t had a poll) gets put into this category as well because of marijuana legalization.

I group the western states like Wyoming, Montana, Idaho along with Colorado because of the appeal that the Libertarian message has with those states. There isn’t really good polling out of these states yet, so it is based on predictions.

As for Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, a recent Ballotpedia poll put these states into play for the Governor.  They also coincide with some of the Real Clear Politics polling I have seen that show lower numbers, but going up with every poll that comes out in recent weeks.


New Hampshire should be obvious to many of you that follow the Libertarian movement. That is the Live Free or Die state, and the home to the Free State Project. Therefore that is a simple one. There hasn’t been any polling done up there, but I can say with confidence that Governor Johnson will play well in NH. (Plus that might spill over into Vermont)

As for Virginia, two big polls by Fox New and NBC put Governor Johnson at 10%.  The Libertarian Party should play very well in Virginia being close to DC, and with many that live there not wanting to see either Trump or Clinton as President, he could be in position for a good showing.

In 2013 Robert Sarvis played very well in the Governor’s race (7%) in Virginia and that has the potential to spill over to the Presidential race this time around.

I will say it again. Yes, these predictions are a moon shot, but then again Donald Trump just became the GOP nominee and Hillary Clinton managed to avoid prison so there is nothing impossible at this point. 

If this scenario plays out or gets close, the election would be tossed to the House of Representatives.  At that point anything can happen and the likely hood of Gary Johnson being elected President goes up 10 fold. Most Republicans are not happy with Trump being their nominee, and if given a choice, they might be inclined to put in a former Republican Governor to the Presidency before turning the country over to the crazy mind of Donald Trump.

I welcome comments about this story and encourage you to think with an open mind.

16 thoughts on “161 Electoral Votes a Real Possibility for Gary Johnson

  1. Zack Sargent July 20, 2016 / 2:48 pm

    I’m not sure about Montana or Idaho. I’ve dealt with an outsized number of white supremacists from those areas, and it would be really tough to unseat Trump, there. I think it would be impossible to see Hillary there, but Stein may not be in play there to spoil her, either - she could eke out victory in a couple of low-population red states by spoiler effect.

    That said, I think it is important to note the gating factors. (1) Name recognition. He’s got to get over 75%. Last I saw he was 23-25%. The more his name gets out there, the better he’ll do in the polls. (2) Debate inclusion. If he can’t get into the debates, he won’t get votes. (3) Campaign organization. I’ve finally been contacted by the national campaign. Awesome. The “ground game” is going to be key. Trump doesn’t have any in Washington. Not sure if he’ll put any in New Mexico. In fact, that campaign is so chaotic, it might not do a darn thing. People won’t vote for a candidate unless their neighbors ALSO seem reasonably likely to vote for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joseph Ahner July 26, 2016 / 7:19 pm

      last i saw gary was polling 20% in montana and 26% in Utah


  2. Jesse Helmick July 20, 2016 / 10:54 pm

    Still blows me away that Hillary still has the same support she did despite the truth about her lies coming to light. Sheep.


  3. Scott Whalen July 21, 2016 / 12:14 am

    I don’t believe Johnson will win in the electoral college. However, I do believe he can win a few states in the election. If he can win a few states, it could push the election into the House of Representatives. Here’s where it would get interesting. Article 12 states that each state gets 1 vote, meaning the state’s delegation to the House would determine how they would vote. Thirty-three state delegations are majority Republican, 14 are majority Democrat, and 3 are evenly split. Trump would need 26 of those 33 states to vote for him to win the presidency. Here’s the thing, 9 of those 33 are those western states you refer to. Now, if the election goes to the House, Hillary has no chance with only 14 states with a Democrat majority. But, if she decides that she’ll do anything to prevent a Trump Presidency, she could try and convince those state delegations to support Johnson. Take the 3 that are evenly split (Maine, New Hampshire, and New Jersey) and the 14 that are Democrat majority (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) and you get a total of 17. To reach the magic number of 26, 9 more states would have to vote for Johnson (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming). And, for a final monkey wrench, then the House of Representatives would decide who the Vice President is. With 33 Republican delegations, it’s highly possible in this scenario that those states would vote Mike Pence in as Vice President.


  4. Anonymous July 21, 2016 / 6:58 am

    Have you considered what would happen in Kentucky if Rand Paul endorsed Johnson?


    • Ed English July 21, 2016 / 8:04 am

      I don’t know that Rand Paul would ever endorse Johnson to Kentucky. While fiscally conservative, Johnson is socially moderate to liberal, supporting pro-choice and gay marriage, etc. Those two topics alone would not sit well with the majority of Kentucky voters, in my opinion.


    • Scott Whalen July 21, 2016 / 3:53 pm

      Rand Paul would still like to run for president as a Republican. No serious Republican will support Johnson. Some like Jeb and Mitt will hint at it, but it would kill anyone within the party to openly support him.


    • Michael Payne July 28, 2016 / 4:39 pm

      Rand is up for re-election in November. He can’t risk alienating himself to his very much pro Trump constituency with a Johnson endorsement. It’s risky enough that he skipped out on the RNC.


  5. nighthawk2005 July 21, 2016 / 7:50 am

    He’s got a better shot to win Arizona than he does to win Washington.


  6. Mike July 21, 2016 / 7:54 am

    Your low delegate states I believe are possible options, but he has to be out and on the ground there, mobilize strong teams, and never take his foot off the gas. Look at the FiveThirtyEight model and see the light shades of blue and red, cross match with low delegate count, and you have your primary targets. The problem with your bigger targets is that while mood and even belief in Johnson may be rising, the major party candidates will be spending a lot of time and money, and we know local and national press will be focused on them as well. So, the story will go to ‘fear the other, fear the Johnson as he is putting votes into the other’s pocket.

    You don’t run to lose, that is given. But there are many ways to win. First get any and every one of those target rich ‘light red/blue’ states you can and gum up the works sending things to Congress. Second is get more than 5% of the popular vote. So, CA, NY - grab those GOP voters that don’t want to vote Trump but can’t tip to anyone else for a spot and vote Johnson. Those Sanders supporters as well. The same in Texas and the like for states tied to Trump and frustrated Clinton voters or Cruz supporters. The war chest of the Dems is so big, they can cover every message put out there, we need money, but we are small and we need to use every advantage to get there, and matching funds will help.


  7. Alive Juice Bar July 21, 2016 / 10:11 am

    Why do you think he’d win Washington state? Sizable number of libertarians in Washington but enough to win?


  8. Don't like any choice July 21, 2016 / 11:23 am

    Welcome to hillary land this is the same crap that got her husband elected. Might as well bend over and kiss our busts goodbye. This is pathetic.


    • Robert J. Bentley July 21, 2016 / 2:19 pm

      Understanding the process is important. In this scenario she doesn’t win. Election goes to the House of Representatives. Nobody gets a majority of the Electoral votes.


  9. Iowa Nice July 24, 2016 / 4:10 pm

    I largely agree with Scott Whalen’s scenario (except the Senate picks the VP) and with the author that Johnson needs to win many Western states, but I would drop Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida out of the prediction. Trump and Clinton will be fighting hard for those, and it will be impossible for Johnson to get press or many votes there. However, I would add, Oregon, Arizona, N Dakota, S Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, and Kansas. Basically, Cruz (anti-Trump) and Bernie (anti-Clinton) states. Doesn’t matter the size of the state. If Johnson gets as many states as Trump and keeps Clinton from the Presidency, the House will pick a former Governor who pledges to work with them over a bully who will berate them for 4 years.


  10. cindy25 July 27, 2016 / 1:29 am

    the Senate picks the VP from the top 2, each senator 1 vote


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