Before the election we looked at where Gary Johnson might fall on the list of third party Presidential candidates. We predicted he would be the most successful candidate in twenty years, and he ended up proving us right. As of this writing, Gary Johnson earned 3.24% of the popular vote, or 4,133,106 votes in total. That puts him well over Ralph Nader’s 2.74% of the vote in 2000. Gary Johnson earned the highest percentage of the vote for any third party candidate since Ross Perot’s second run in 1996. He’s one of the most successful third party Presidential candidates in history.
Of third party candidates in the last hundred years, Gary Johnson placed 7th by vote percentage. The Governor ended up in between Socialists Eugene V. Debs, who won 3.4% in 1920, and Alan Benson, who won 3.19% in 1916. Of all third place candidates in U.S. history, Gary Johnson placed 17th, coming in slightly behind Greenback party candidate James B. Weaver’s 3.3% in 1880. Although, if you were to list candidates by popular vote, Gary Johnson would be much higher up on the list. Interestingly, Gary Johnson almost the exact same amount of votes as Teddy Roosevelt, the most successful third party candidate by percentage, who ran exactly a hundred years previous.
If we were to compare third party Presidential candidates’ vote totals Gary Johnson would be much higher up on the list. The current leader is Ross Perot who won 19,743,821 votes in 1992. He’s followed by George Wallace (9,901,118 votes in 1968), Ross Perot again (8,085,294 votes in 1996), John Anderson (5,719,850 votes in 1980), Robert M. La Follette Sr. (4,831,706 votes in 1924), and finally Teddy Roosevelt who falls just behind the Governor with the 4,122,721 votes he won in 1912. Gary Johnson won 4,133,106 votes this year which would make him the sixth most successful third party candidate in U.S. history by vote total.
By these metrics and many more, Gary Johnson is one of the most successful third party candidates in U.S. history. The Governor earned his place in our history books and his campaign will certainly be discussed for years to come. More importantly than that, the impact his ideas had on our political conversation will long outlast him. That’s something to be proud of.