Kent County Libertarians encouraged by vote totals

DOVER — The best explanation Jesse McVay has heard of why people who don’t really like Donald Trump end up voting for him is a hypothetical situation in which a person must choose one of two doors — one marked “man-eating lion” and the other marked “may be a man-eating lion.”

Mr. McVay chairs the Kent County branch of the Libertarian Party of Delaware and acts as the state organization’s secretary.

Naturally having high hopes for his party’s candidate for president, Gary Johnson, his expectations were realistic. But, like most of the nation, he was surprised by the election’s outcome Wednesday morning.

“It was surprising, but our general reaction is mixed,” he said. “Gary Johnson started off polling around 10 percent and gradually lost ground over the course of the election. That’s kind of expected because we’ve seen similar things in past years.

“Third party candidates seem to be doing well in the beginning, but the closer you get to the election you start to see people saying that they’re not sure they can really vote for a third party.”

Although not reaching the percentages Mr. McVay hoped Mr. Johnson would he still felt generally positive about the results.

“This is the best performance we’ve ever seen from a Libertarian candidate,” he said. “I think last cycle he got about 1 percent of voters in Delaware and I think he may have done similarly throughout the country, but this year he’s around 3 percent in Delaware and in some states he’s around 9 percent. From that point of view, I think people are pleased.”

Mr. McVay said that had hoped that Mr. Johnson would overcome a 5 percent national voters benchmark because that would entitle him to federal funds next election.

“With that, he would have had access federal matching funds in the next election cycle which I think would have amounted to something around the order of $10 million to help fund a future campaign,” he said. “I think the overall percentage was somewhere just above 3% nationwide.”

Mr. Johnson did overcome other state thresholds in his run that will allow him ballot access next cycle though, Mr. McVay said.

“There are several individual states throughout the nation where obtaining a certain percentage of the vote will ensure ballot access in the future elections so candidates don’t have to spend so much time and money petitioning to get on the ballot,” he said. “This cycle was unique in that Gary was able to ensure ballot access in quite a few states for the next cycle.”

According to Mr. McVay, this is an obstacle that Libertarian candidates don’t have to concern themselves with in Delaware.

“Delaware doesn’t have ballot access threshold based on performance,” he said. “It’s strictly based on how many people are registered in the party. It has to have .1 percent of registered voter total which amounts to about 650 voters. Currently the Libertarian Party of Delaware has about 1,200 registered voters so we’re well above that.”

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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