The odds of either the Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein qualifying for the presidential debates is looking increasingly slim.
The most recent Real Clear Politics poll averages show Johnson averaging 8.1 percent support and Stein with 3 percent. A recent NBC News poll gives them slightly better numbers with Johnson at 12 percent and Stein at 4 percent, but both are still short of the 15 percent threshold that the Commission on Presidential Debates has set for participation.
There is one path open to both Johnson and Stein that would allow their participation in the debates. They could jointly agree to create a united third party for this election cycle. There are, of course, many reasons why folks will say ‘no way.’ Nevertheless, it’s an idea that’s at least worth a look.
There is no denying that the Libertarian Party and Green Party differ on a number of key issues. What they both have in common is a platform that is anti-establishment and calls for change in how the government operates. There is no way that the two parties could reconcile their differences in the short time remaining to qualify for the debates. It would be a temporary marriage of convenience that would end on Election Day.
However, if they value allowing the American public to be exposed to their respective platforms through the debates, this is their only option. Given Johnson’s commanding lead over Stein and the fact that the Libertarian Party will be on the ballot in all 50 states, Johnson is the logical presidential candidate and Stein, the vice presidential candidate of a newly reformed Libertarian Party.
Assuming that both could convince their supporters to accept the combined ticket, that would give the Johnson-Stein ticket a base of 11.1 percent of the vote, still short of the 15 percent needed, but much closer. The media coverage of such a merger would likely create a boost in support and potentially push the ticket over the 15 percent threshold.
Johnson would represent the united party in the presidential debates, and Jill Stein would appear in the vice presidential debate scheduled for October 4. Both candidates would have a national audience to present their views, and the visibility of both parties would be increased.
This is a long shot concept with a very short time frame to pull it off, but both parties could see long-term gains from their short-term partnership. It is highly doubtful that either Gary Johnson or Jill Stein is going to win the presidency, at least not in 2016. Why not use this unique opportunity to build a base for the future?