While Americans await the results of the agonisingly close presidential race between US President Donald Trump and his Democratic contender Joe Biden, another lesser-known candidate is on track to get 1.2 per cent of the national vote — pulling several thousands of crucial votes away from both the Democratic and Republican candidates in key battleground states.
With around 1.6 million overall votes, the Libertarian Party’s nominee Jo Jorgensen — the only female presidential candidate on the ballot in all 50 US states — has earned the second-highest number of votes in her party’s 49-year history.
Jorgensen has no viable chance of winning the election. Two days have passed since the US’ polling day, and she has not won a single electoral vote. But political analysts believe that the candidate may have a hand in determining the victor of this presidential race.
Who is Jo Jorgensen?
Dr Jo Jorgensen, a senior professor of psychology at Clemson University in South Carolina, is the first female presidential candidate to be nominated by the Libertarian Party in its history of over four decades. The 63-year-old and her running mate, entrepreneur Jeremy ‘Spike’ Cohen, appeared on the general election ballot in all 50 states as well as in Washington DC.
Jorgenson is no political newcomer. She first ran for office in 1992 on the Libertarian Ticket in South Carolina’s Congressional District, where she received about 2.2 per cent of the vote. In 1996, she was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential nominee alongside then-candidate Harry Browne.
In May this year, she was formally nominated as the party’s presidential candidate. Soon after, she took to Twitter to announce that she was ‘repurposing’ Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogan from the 2016 election — ‘I’m with her’ — and using it as her own. The slogan quickly started to trend on social media yet again.
— Jo Jorgensen (@Jorgensen4POTUS) May 24, 2020
A long-time critic of the US’ two-party system, Jorgensen is also against mass incarceration, foreign military operations and big federal programmes. In a video released by her campaign in April, she said that her goal was to turn the US “into one giant Switzerland, armed and neutral”. If elected, she said she would bring the troops home from around the world and also work towards removing foreign aid to other countries. She also vowed to eliminate federal income tax. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram
What is the Libertarian Party that she represents?
Founded in 1971, the Libertarian Party has grown to become the third-largest political party after the Republicans and the Democrats. The party has had a presidential candidate on the ballot every year since 1972 but has never received more than 4 per cent of the popular vote, according to ballotpedia.org.
The Libertarian Party advocates for a completely free market, small government and civil liberties. According to its website, the party believes that all Americans should be “free to live their lives and pursue their interests as they see fit as long as they do no harm to another”. The website also includes their ‘statement of principles’ along with the declaration, “We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.”
Want Libertarians to vote for you? Try nominating someone who doesn’t add trillions to the national debt, will actually end our foreign wars and bring the troops home, and believes the rights of all people are to be protected.
Until then – as always – your tears are delicious. https://t.co/9lo3BIiHHn
— Libertarian Party (@LPNational) November 4, 2020
On Tuesday, the party clinched its first state house seat in nearly two decades when Marshall Burt was elected to the Wyoming House of Representatives. “This is only the fifth time in Libertarian Party history a candidate running only on the LP (Libertarian Party) label has been elected to a state legislature, and the first time in 20 years,” a statement from the party read.
The party’s last state win was in 2002 when Vermont Representative Neil Randall was reelected for his second and last term in the state legislature.
How did Jorgensen perform in the 2020 US Presidential election?
Apart from beating every other third-party and independent candidate in all 50 states, Jorgensen’s vote total in three key battleground states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada — exceeded the margin between Biden and Trump. While the Democratic candidate did ultimately flip both Wisconsin and Michigan, analysts believe votes for Jorgensen could have swung the election either way.
In Georgia, Jorgensen secured 1.2 per cent of the overall votes, or 61,269 total votes. Trump and Biden are neck-to-neck in the state, which is otherwise a Republican stronghold, a mere 1,775 votes between them.
Republicans: “We can’t let Biden win!”
Democrats: “We can’t let Trump win”
Libertarians: “Makes zero difference to us. These men both are both unprincipled, morally compromised, big government loving authoritarians. If Biden wins, if Trump wins, end result will be the same.”
— Libertarian Party of Texas (@LPTexas) November 5, 2020
Jorgensen’s performance in rural and western states was also particularly noteworthy. In Alaska and North Dakota, she secured 2.7 per cent of the vote, while in South Dakota she managed to clinch 2.6 per cent, the Associated Press reported.
With at least 1.6 million votes, Jorgensen won the second-most votes of any Libertarian nominee ever, according to the Associated Press. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who was the party’s presidential nominee in 2016, broke her record by securing 3.3 per cent of the national vote.
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‘Wasted vote’ criticism
The Libertarian Party is often criticised for ‘taking votes away’ from the US’ two major parties — Democratic and Republican. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and several others pointed out that Jorgensen’s 38,000 votes in the state could have crushed the narrow margin between Trump and Biden.
Responding to the claim on Twitter, the party said, “Want Libertarians to vote for you? Try nominating someone who doesn’t add trillions to the national debt, will actually end our foreign wars and bring the troops home, and believes the rights of all people are to be protected. Until then—as always—your tears are delicious.”
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