On last Thursday's show he admitted he had been wrong.
Rush reported that though he had promulgated the standard conservative pundit line in attacking "third" party candidates like Gary Johnson for "stealing" votes from the GOP, polls show that Governor Johnson is actually hurting Hillary Clinton more. Friday's Politico confirmed that Clinton campaign staff are worried about Gary Johnson, and over the weekend President Obama and other surrogates begged millennial voters to stick with Clinton. Chuck Todd and other Sunday show Democrats fretted about Johnson's bleeding Hillary of young supporters.
A standard trope of conservative Republican activists for years has been that Libertarian candidates specifically and independents generally, "take" votes from Republican candidates. Even as 40% of voters stopped voting for President. A curious position where conservatives who generally oppose compulsory union membership denounced nonconforming voters as "scabs."
Liberal media outposts, like MSNBC's Morning Joe show - which usually take weeks to catch up to Rush, The Daily Caller, Drudge Report and other alternative media on campaign topics like Mrs. Clinton's emails or health - have more quickly recognized that Gary Johnson mainly hurts Hillary. Mika Brzezinski last week openly wished that Johnson's more sophisticated, East Coast patrician, seemingly liberal running mate, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, had been at the top of the ticket, as Weld, to her taste, is more progressive palatable, and would make the Libertarians bleeding Hillary of votes somewhat more intelligible. This week Morning Joe regular Carl Bernstein predicted that William Weld was going to leave the Libertarian ticket out of fear that Johnson was electing Trump, which Weld then said was wishful thinking. Though given the Clinton campaign's nervousness perhaps it was a psyop.
Earlier in the campaign, Hillary was said by Donald Trump to have been "schlonged." Last week the pro-Hillary PAC PrioritiesUSA announced a multi-million dollar digital media push to keep Hillary from feeling the Johnson:
Despite a growing number of newspaper endorsements of Johnson or of people calling for him to be included in the debate, the bipartisan Commission on Pesidential Debates Friday announced it would exclude Johnson. Pro-Johnson activists Alex Graham, an engineer from Pennsylvania, and Christine Guerrero, an MBA from Ohio, have planned a protest rally ( which they have been instructed to say is not official but is only "campaign tolerated" and a "peaceful assembly") outside the downtown D.C. offices of the Presidential Debate Commission at lunch tomorrow to demand that Gary Johnson be included in the debates. The two women say they have never organized anything like this before. Perhaps as a result of the new Hillary campaign plan to attack Johnson on social media, the Facebook notice for the event, long with other libertarian Facebook pages, were attacked suddenly by Democratic posters raging that Johnson be excluded. (Though aiming for a thousand people Graham had only 400 confirmed by Monday night.)
Though polls show that Johnson is definitely serving as an electoral oasis for independents and Democrats who normally vote for the most liberal candidate, but feel that Hillary Clinton is so morally compromised as to be a bridge too far, it remains the case that Johnson may deny Trump Electoral College votes in specific states like Arizona or Utah, while pulling more popular votes from Hillary nationwide. From the standpoint of either establishment party, he's a chaos factor.
I was curious about another group of electoral defectors to Johnson who might not have voted for Hillary, the several "Republicans for Gary Johnson" groups that have been created, primarily on social media. While some establishment Republican politicians in the #NeverTrump movement have endorsed Hillary, and a few around Bill Kristol casted about for an "independent conservative" candidate, a few, like former Republican Liberty Caucus national chair Dave Nalle have decided to campaign for Johnson. And a growing list of former GOP governors, including Mitch Daniels, Dick Zimmer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mitt Romney and Christine Todd Whitman have called for including Gary Johnson in the presidential debates:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">America can only benefit from more ideas in the presidential race; the debates should include <a href="https://twitter.com/GovG
aryJohnson">@GovGaryJohnson</a > and <a href="https://twitter.com/Bill Weld">@BillWeld</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hash tag/LetGaryDebate?src=hash">#L etGaryDebate</a></p>— Christie Whitman (@GovCTW) <a href="https://twitter.com/GovC TW/status/776398450078289925"> September 15, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/wi dgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Earlier this month, libertarian Republican political consultant Liz Mair pitched Johnson to one of the D.C. conservative Republican meetings that dare not speak their name (closed to the press), to a slightly irritated crowd of non-profit CEOs, campaign consultants, and PR peeps who didn't like Johnson's and Weld's "liberal" positions, though also did not seem to be Trump enthusiasts. Nalle's group had raised around $20,000 earlier this month, but planning to raise much more (dwarfed by the $3 million the Johnson campaign raised the same month).
None of these groups seem to have more than 20,000 people following them on social media. Many of the people involved act on their own locally, like Northern Virginia lawyer and Republican activist Trey Mayfield, who held a Republican targeted fundraiser in Arlington, Virginia recently for Gary Johnson. Some seem to be job hunters, who are unwilling or unable to get a job with the Trump campaign.
A few weeks ago, when Hillary was up over Trump in the polls, Mr. Mayfield said he was campaigning for Johnson primarily to make sure Republican voters who would not go to the polls to vote for Trump would have a top of the ticket candidate for whom to turn out and then vote for down ticket GOP candidates - after voting for Governor Gary. The strategy is to protect Republicans in the House and Senate by turning out Republican-leaning voters for Gary Johnson.
I put some questions to Nalle (a graphic designer from Texas who invents specialized fonts for movies and game software, including the Beynkales font from Tim Burton's 2005 movie Corpse Bride), including the question of whether any GOP activists were supporting Johnson precisely because he would hurt Hillary by taking votes from her. Nalle said that was not his primary motivation, and created a poll which a few thousand Republicans have now answered on why they are voting for Johnson. I'm not sure my question is really reflected in his poll, or if it is it was the last and least popular answer:
I want my vote to mean something and no other candidate represents me (2170 votes)
I want to further the message of liberty regardless of party (812)
I want to stop Hillary and I think Johnson could beat her if given a chance (362)
I want to stop Trump, he's dangerous to the nation (282)
I want the Libertarian Party to grow and be more accepting of Republicans (263)
I want to stop Trump and the damage he is doing to the Republican brand (158)
I want GOP voters who are staying home to have a top of the ticket option so they will come out and vote for GOP candidates (136)
I want the Johnson campaign to pull voters from Hillary to stop Trump (88).
Unrelated to what motivates Republicans for Johnson or voters abandoning Hillary for Johnson, Nalle has now invented a special Gary Johnson "Live Free" font that released Friday on the website FontCraft.