Fresh off his dominant performance in Tuesday's third party presidential debate, former New Mexico Governor and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson has released his first television ad. The ad will run in Washington D.C., Vermont, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, New Mexico, and the swing state of Colorado. Like Ron Paul, Johnson unsuccessfully sought the 2012 Republican nomination for president. However, unlike the retiring Texas congressman, Johnson decided to launch a third party bid for the White House. Many of Paul's supporters have found a home in the Johnson camp.
Beyond his group of ardent libertarian followers, Johnson has garnered increasing amounts of attention because of the potential spoiler role he could play in the presidential election. Most major independent polling orgnizations do not include third party candidates in their survey questions, preferring to foist upon respondents only two options — Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. However, according to a poll by Zogby released two weeks ago, Republicans should be very concerned about Johnson's presence on the ballot. In that poll Romney led Obama nationally 45.1% to 44.5%. However, when Johnson was given as an option, Obama led Romney 45.5% to 45%.
The concern the Republican Party has is that Johnson's presence on ballots in swing states could siphon enough votes away from Romney to hand Obama one or multiple key battleground states, and by extension the general election. Given that Romney's credibility as a conservative has long been under suspicion by many right-wingers, there may be enough conservatives disillusioned with the GOP nominee who may cast their votes for Johnson in protest. Of course, these votes would hardly constitute the majority of those for Johnson, as he no doubt has a loyal following of libertarian supporters.
Johnson's first television ad: